It feels like I've been writing this news blog forever. It's only been going since October 29th, but that doesn't seem to make a difference. Every morning, coffee, cigarette, blog. Feed the cats, feed the dog, walk the dog. Go to school. I wonder how long this all will continue, sometimes. Just a simple bit of a morning rush, but it means so much more than that. I hope I am helping those who need it. I hope to help more in the future.
On to the news:
-- Occupy Oakland is responding to mass arrests and evictions of other movements by setting up a new encampment. The new Occupation is set up in Mosswood Park, about a mile and a half north of the Frank Ogawa plaza. Occupiers pitched tents and were visited by police, but have not yet been asked to leave. The group says this is a temporary encampment, which will hopefully last until the group attempts to retake the plaza on May Day. "This is the start of the Spring Offensive."
Okay, I'm going to move to giving links and descriptions, because I have something else important to talk about afterward.
-- Occupy DC is working on setting up an important conference, titled "Control the Corporations." The conference is nation-wide, and is open to activists of all kinds. There will be multiple speakers and rallies, and attendance is expected to be quite large. Times, dates, and other details are located in the link.
-- The Huffington Post has an article detailing police (NYPD) infiltration of liberal groups, with special attention paid to groups who oppose U.S. immigration policies, labor laws, and racial profiling. It also discusses the infiltration of religious groups.
-- The Department of Homeland Security is apparently confused about their own involvement with the Occupy movement, according to documents obtained by TruthOut. Parts of the redacted documents are available in the link, showing conflicting accounts of monitoring and guidelines.
-- Occupy Raleigh has released a survey taken at a General Assembly, showing the demographics of the movement. The results may stun those who are opposed to the movement, and those who like to yell "Get a job" at Occupiers. According to the survey, Occupiers are typically more educated than the general public, and over half have full time jobs. For exact numbers and more detail, click the link.
So, here is what I wanted to talk to you about. I think it is very important for people to be well-informed about the law, especially in the case that a person serves on a jury. With many Occupiers heading to jury trials to support their beliefs, understanding the rights a jury has can be an important piece of the puzzle. What I'm going to tell you about is something a judge won't. Sometimes, even mentioning it in court can cause a judge to become upset with whoever mentions it, as was the case earlier this week, when a spectator at a jury trial in Augusta was ejected from the courtroom after holding up a sign with the words "Jury Nullification" written on it, and the prosecutors actually filed for a mistrial because of it. (It was denied.)
For those of you who do not know what jury nullification is, it is the de facto right of a jury to declare that while a person may be guilty, they deserve no punishment. It is a ruling the jury is allowed to make. The fact that judges will not tell a jury of this right annoys me, but I am not in law, so there isn't much I can do about that. The fact is, jury nullification is a way for a jury to basically say that while a person did break the law, they do not agree with the law, and therefore deny punishment. It is its own form of protest, and jury members everywhere need to be aware of such a rule.
If you know someone who is likely sympathetic to the movement, or even someone who disagrees with the movement but respects the protests, it is time to let them know about this important feature of jury trials. I'm going to pass you another link here, to the Wiki page for jury nullification. It will let you find more accurate information on the use of jury nullification, and give you an informed view of juror rights.
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