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COLUMN

Happytown

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Speaking of "evil," Lawrence Walters, the Altamonte Springs attorney perhaps best known as the chief legal adversary of Polk County God-Sheriff Grady Judd, has thrown his hat into the ring in yet another First Amendment battle.

On Mar. 2 Walters and the American Civil Liberties Union filed a petition in the state's Fifth District Court of Appeal on behalf of the Fully Informed Jury Association, a group that encourages jurors to intentionally vote for acquittal if they disagree with the law itself, regardless of whether the defendant violated the law or not. Prior to Jan. 31, FIJA member Mark Schmidter had been regularly posting himself outside of the Orange County courthouse downtown, handing out pamphlets with this message on the cover: "What rights do you have as a juror that THE JUDGE WON'T TELL YOU?"

But on that last day in January, Ninth Judicial Circuit Court judge Belvin Perry Jr. banned the practice of passing out pamphlets to jurors, 
arguing in an administrative order that "restriction upon expressive conduct and the dissemination of leaflets and other materials 
containing written information tending to influence summoned jurors as they enter the courthouse is necessary to serve the State's compelling interest in protecting the integrity of the jury system."

Naturally, the ACLU and Walters think otherwise. "[T]he ban violates the United States and Florida constitutions by censoring political speech and expressive conduct based solely on its content, with no compelling state interest, and imposes a prior restraint on that protected speech," they stated in a press release.

Since Perry's decision, Schmidter and FIJA organizer James Cox have moved to assemble a strange collection of bedfellows to support their cause, ranging from the East Orlando Tea Party to the UCF chapter of NORML. The common heartstring that FIJA has plucked in its presentations to the aforementioned groups is the travesty of "victimless crimes" - whether it be for possession of a dime bag or an unlicensed Glock - that could, and should, be protested by an intentionally hung jury.

And we thought we'd never get to use the term "intentionally hung" again.

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