Snowmass Village man to go before judge for fliers
A Snowmass Village man might be facing a contempt of court charge over his attempt to distribute anti-government, “jury handbook” fliers to prospective Pitkin County jurors last week.
Pitkin County Judge Erin Fernandez-Ely will hold a hearing Wednesday to determine whether Jerry Begly should be charged with contempt of court for trying to influence jurors.
“My goal was to educate the people,” said Begly, an occasional writer of letters to the editors of local papers. He declined to discuss the incident at length but declared that “there’s big First Amendment stuff going on.”
Begly had been called for jury duty in an assault and battery case and was on the second floor of the Pitkin County Courthouse handing out leaflets to potential jurors. County court clerk Mary Ashkii Lgaii approached him and asked him what he was doing, Ashkii Lgaii said.
She said that as soon as she saw the contents of the flier, she took one to the judge, and the judge ordered her to confiscate all copies and to bring Begly to talk with her.
The judge informed him of the need for Wednesday’s “show cause” hearing and dismissed him as a prospective juror. Although Ashkii Lgaii said that at least one juror said he had already read the flier before she collected them, none of the other jurors were dismissed over the matter.
The flier, printed with the titles “Citizens Rule Book” and “A Palladium of Liberty,” offers several quotations purportedly from U.S. Supreme Court justices and other sources, advising jurors on how they should conduct themselves after hearing a case.
Among the quotations are such sentiments as “the jury has the right to judge both the law as well as the fact in controversy,” from the first chief justice to occupy the seat, John Jay, in 1789.
“The jury has the power to bring a verdict in the teeth of both law and fact,” is offered as a quote from the late Oliver Wendell Holmes.
“One juror can stop tyranny with a `not guilty vote!'” the leaflet proclaims. “He can nullify bad law in any case, by `Hanging The Jury!'”
The leaflet is made up of three pages copied from a 62-page rule book, which can be obtained from numerous Web sites, including such sites as libertymall.com, gunowners.com and wealth4freedom.com.
The book contains text from such disparate sources as the U.S. Constitution, the Communist Manifesto, the Ten Commandments and the Declaration of Independence, among others.
Begly declined to discuss his actions or his motives.
The flier, printed with the titles “Citizens Rule Book” and “A Palladium of Liberty,” offers several quotations purportedly from U.S. Supreme Court justices and other sources.
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