Army Vietnam Veteran, peaceful freedom activist, and local small businessman, Mark Schimdter, has been jailed for 145 days by Judge Belvin Perry. Schmidter’s sentence began Thursday after he was found guilty for distributing jury nullification info outside of Perry’s self-imposed “free speech zone.” during the Casey Anthony trial.
Mark E. Schmidter is an activist for jury rights whose story we covered one year ago. He was originally facing a year in jail after being found guilty of two felonies: External Criminal Contempt of Court, and jury tampering, for distributing information outside the Orange County Courthouse in Florida.
We noted that Schmidter was not guilty of any actual law, but rather rules written by the acting judge. These rules that Schmidter is in violation of are for demonstrating outside of a “free speech zone” determined by Judge Perry. Schmidter, who was first arrested in June 2011, has maintained his innocence and that the judge’s orders he violated were a direct violation of the First Amendment of the Constitution.
Furthermore, the very rule he was found to be in violation of has been overturned.
Judge Belvin Perry issued Administrative Order # 2011 03 which states that if anyone hands out information, talks or hold a sign outside the courthouse, they would be held in contempt of court and jury tampering.
Administrative Order #2011 07 states that anything that has to do with “Free Speech” may only be done in the free speech zones which are two 10’x30’ remote areas nearly a football field away from the courthouse doors. It is the same rule that was used to jail another jury nullification activist, Julian Heicklen.
Here is Schmidter being interviewed before his court appearance in June, 2011:
Although violating these orders is a misdemeanor offense, Schmidter was charged and convicted of two felony counts. Because of the felony charges, and suspecting that he couldn’t get fair treatment from the judge who wrote the Administrative Orders, Schmidter requested a trial by peers and for Judge Perry to recuse himself from the case. He was denied on both requests. Schmidter has referred to Judge Perry as the “lawmaker, prosecutor, judge, jury, and executioner.”
After serving four days in jail, Schmidter was released on bail and appealed his case. As WFTV Orlando reported:
Chief Judge Belvin Perry designated a special area for public protesting, and he held Mark Schmidter in contempt because Schmidter didn’t use the designated area.
In December, an appeals court shot down the designated area but agreed court protesters could not distribute things outside court.
Schmidter’s lawyer plans to challenge Thursday’s re-sentencing. (Source)
As stated on the We are All Mark Schmidter Facebook Page:
Mr. Schmidter is a purely peaceful activist who believes in the historically well established rights of juries to judge the law as well as the facts and also that if there is no victim, there is no crime and jurors may agree. Please support Mark Schmidter and the #MarkSchmiderCampaign effort. If a 64 y/o Vietnam veteran can be thrown in jail for passing out leaflets with an opinion that is different than the status quo, then, We are All Mark Schmidter.
The most recent confinement occurred per an arbitrary rule a man wrote, judged, denied jury for, sentenced under, was since found illegal by a higher court and even repealed himself due to that order.
This begs the question, since that rule has been found illegal, who is the real criminal under their actions today?
To learn about the essential importance of Jury Nullification, please view the Layman’s Guide to Jury Nullification below. It should be clear why judges wouldn’t want this information distributed; they prefer judicial tyranny, as opposed to juries who vote with their conscience as part of upholding America’s legal tradition.