10th Circuit affirms injunction against ban aimed at jury nullification advocacy outside courthouse

On Friday, the Tenth Circuit has affirmed a preliminary injunction entered against a Colorado state trial court to prevent it from enforcing a rule prohibiting expressive activities in a plaza outside the courthouse.

The rule was targeted at advocates of jury nullification — i.e. the belief that jurors may refuse to convict a defendant if they believe the law under which she is charged is immoral or should not be enforced — who had been distributing pamphlets outside the courthouse, including persons called for jury duty.

Plaintiffs (including the Fully Informed Jury Association, an advocacy group that supports nullification) sued, arguing that the rule violated their First Amendment rights, and the district court granted a preliminary injunction.

The lengthy opinion in Verlo v. Martinez was written by Judge Carolyn McHugh, and while it affirms the preliminary injunction, it provides further guidance to the lower court on remand, and takes no position on whether a permanent injunction should be entered.

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