I had my problems with The Wire‘s writing staff’s argument for jury nullification in drug cases, but I still have to conclude, as I did a few weeks ago, that I’d vote to acquit if called for jury duty on charges of possession or distribution, and that you ought to as well. According to an anonymous Texas prosecutor, this makes me a criminal (h/t Balko):
The writers of The Wire, in advocating the actions that they have, are essentially promoting the commission of a crime. Had they made the statements contained in the Time magazine article in Texas, then they would almost certainly be guilty of aggravated perjury. Outrageous, no? How dare I suggest that the exercise of their First Amendment rights could possibly constitute a crime? Pretty easily, actually. Just look at the law.
Perjury and aggravated perjury are defined as follows:
P.C. 37.02 Perjury
(a) A person commits an offense if, with intent to deceive and with knowledge of the statement’s meaning:
(1) he makes a false statement under oath or swears to the truth of a false statement previously made and the statement is required or authorized by law to be made under oath
P.C. 37.03 Aggravated Perjury
(a) A person commits an offense if he commits perjury as defined in Section 37.02, and the false statement:
(1) is made during or in connection with an official proceeding; and
(2) is material.
(b) An offense under this section is a felony of the third degree.
The writers of The Wire are telling their readers to premeditatedly violate this statute. By taking the juror’s oath, a juror who plans on engaging in jury nullification is making a false statement under oath, and the statement could hardly be more material to the proceeding! The elements of perjury are thus met. The violation is even more egregious since it is planned out in advance. The jurors enter the courtroom having already formed the intent to commit jury nullification in narcotics cases, regardless of the evidence (”save for a prosecution in which acts of violence or intended violence are alleged” of course, according to the sanctimonious and high-minded drivel put out in the article). Since it is premeditated, the jurors’ oath is false at the moment the jury nullification juror is taking it.
So how are The Wire writers guilty? Texas law further provides:
P.C. 7.02 CRIMINAL RESPONSIBILITY FOR CONDUCT OF ANOTHER.
(a) A person is criminally responsible for an offense committed by the conduct of another if:
(2) acting with intent to promote or assist the commission of the offense, he solicits, encourages, directs, aids, or attempts to aid the other person to commit the offense
The Wire writers are, to put it bluntly, encouraging and directing their readers to break the law. And, let’s face it, that’s exactly what jury nullification is: Breaking the law. Not to mention breaking your oath, lying, and a host of other things your mother probably told you not to do.
You know what, anonymous Texas prosecutor man? Bring it on. I hereby invite you to ask a grand jury in Texas to indict me, Dylan Robert Matthews, on charges of aggravated perjury by proxy. I’m pretty sure that no one has actually taken my advice yet, and so it’s unclear to me how the sections of the Texas criminal code you cite apply, but then again I’m also confident that the writing of David Simon et al. hasn’t lead to any nullifications, attempted or successful, and you seem pretty confident that they’re guilty. Your evidence’s right here. I’d be happy to provide you with proof that I’m responsible for the contents of this blog. It’d be well worth it just to see the ACLU and company pwn your anti-First Amendment ass. See you in Texas.