Judge to decide if prosecutor will testify

BIG RAPIDS (AP) — A western Michigan prosecutor said in court recently that a “lawless nation” would result if people obeyed pamphlets being distributed outside a courthouse telling them to follow their conscience if selected for a jury.

Mecosta County Prosecutor Brian Thiede argued at a hearing last Thursday the pamphlets distributed by Keith Wood misrepresent the law.

Thiede added that Wood’s direction is based on a disputed legal notion called jury nullification that can lead to disregarding judge’s instructions, The Grand Rapids Press reported.

“There are some consciences out there that I don’t want voting that way,” Thiede said, adding that someone could use jury nullification to exonerate someone responsible for a deadly attack at a Planned Parenthood clinic. “We would have a lawless nation.”

Wood was arrested last month for jury tampering — under orders, he says, from District Judge Peter Jaklevic. Defense attorney David Kallman cites First Amendment protections.

“My client is handing out a pamphlet saying vote your conscience and Mr. Thiede is trying to criminalize it,” Kallman said.

Thiede countered that Wood sought to tamper with a particular jury.

The prosecutor said Wood knew a land use case against an Amish man was set for jury selection the day he distributed fliers.

Kallman said Thiede was working with Jaklevic and the prosecutor should be a witness — leading to the appointment of a special prosecutor by the state attorney general.

Circuit Judge Kimberly Booher said she’ll decide whether Thiede should testify.

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