Prosecutor says Mecosta man’s jury pamphlets could create ‘lawless nation’

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BIG RAPIDS, Mich. – The Mecosta County District courtroom was packed Thursday morning with supporters of Keith Wood at the preliminary hearing for the former pastor, now small business owner, who faces a five-year felony for passing out fliers on juror rights on a sidewalk in front of the courthouse.

After Judge Kimberly Booher adjourned the preliminary exam Thursday, both parties argued who should be called as witnesses in the case. Mecosta County Prosecutor Brian Thiede told Judge Booher he’s not a necessary witness, and if he is called as one he plans to tell the jury the pamphlets Wood passed out could create a “lawless nation.”

“This (Fully Informed Jury Association pamphlet) just says ignore the law, ignore the facts, do what your conscience wants,” said Thiede after he tossed the pamphlet on the table, "and I’m thinking, Oh my goodness, well, we could have the jury who thinks that jihad is righteous, and if the San Bernadino shooters had not been killed, they’ll say, Let’s acquit."

This statement was greeted by booing from the courtroom gallery, and Judge Booher asked people to not comment as Thiede then said, “We would have a lawless nation if people were to vote their conscience.”

Defense attorney Dave Kallman said he understood the concerns of Judge Jaklevic and Thiede with jury nullification.

“I understand what (Thiede is) saying: we don’t want anarchy and that sort of thing," said Kallman. "But I think he’s conflating what was going on here with what the actual rights of jurors are. Jurors have the power to rule according to their conscience.”

People in the courtroom applauded Kallman when he quoted from the Michigan Criminal Jury Instructions: “Quote, ‘In the end, your vote must be your own, and you must vote honestly and in good conscience.’ It’s in the jury instruction for goodness sake, that’s given every single time in every single criminal case in this state."

The key argument Thursday focused on the defense subpoenas of Judge Peter Jaklevic, who is accused of directly ordering Wood’s arrest, Magistrate Thomas Lyons, Prosecutor Brian Thiede, and Assistant Prosecutor Nathan Hull.

Kallman said the prosecution must be called as witnesses because the police reports show Thiede directed court employees to speak with Wood outside the courthouse as he handed out fliers Nov. 24. “These are all points that make it clear that they are necessary witnesses, but Mr. Thiede directly questioned our client in the hallway. When he is brought in, he’s not Mirandized. I don’t know what he asked him. I’m not entitled to call him as a witness, while this is all going on before the judge orders him (Wood) to be arrested?”

Theide argued Wood only passed out fliers because he knew of another case taking place that day. Court records for November 24 show Andy Yoder, an Amish man, pleaded guilty to three misdemeanors regarding Department of Environmental Quality permits to create and refill inland lakes.

“The defendant here had a specific interest in this case,” said Thiede. "We show that by he’s there at the pre-trial for this case when only this case was up for pre-trial. Then we see him at the courthouse again for this case that is talking about the Yoder case."

But Kallman said Wood was not targeting jurors when passing out pamphlets that have general legal information. He said these charges violate free speech.

“Our defense is a First Amendment defense: our client had the right of free speech to hand out this pamphlet with legal information,” said Kallman. “There’s nothing in this juror pamphlet that says anything about any case going on before the court. It’s general information put out by an organization that it was not even put out by my client.”

As Wood told FOX 17 before, he said he was not targeting jurors and wants his charges dropped.

Judge Booher plans to issue her written opinion on each person subpoenaed, though the defense and prosecution did not object to Judge Jaklevic and Magistrate Lyons testifying in this case.

Kallman told FOX 17 he plans to file another motion by Dec. 21 asking for Wood’s felony charge to be dismissed on grounds that it is a general charge that does not apply after already being charged with a specific crime noted in the misdemeanor for jury tampering.  The prosecution has until Jan. 8 to respond.

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  • Fidel Sarcastro

    We can’t have a lawless nation.
    A lawless government is ok, but a lawless nation is unacceptable.
    It is the American way.

  • Patrick Reese

    Thiede then said, “We would have a lawless nation if people were to vote their conscience.”

    A prosecutor really said that? Heaven forbid as we enter an election year we have citizens who were to vote their conscience… oh wait.

    Sounds more like a prosecutor who fears not being able to railroad the accused because of people actually knowing the power in a jury case is held by the jury as they are the actual judges.


    I feel the Da will drop all charges. By doing so he saves the county tons of money. He also can stop any harassment charges or unlawful arrest by Mr. Woods attorneys . It will also give credibility back to the court of law. He may even save his job WIN WIN I say. Case dismissed!!!!!

  • Dave Mayton

    Man hands out jurors RIGHTS pamphlets and is threatened with 5 years in prison. Meanwhile the prosecuting attorney states “We would have a lawless nation if people were to vote their conscience.” What a grand testimony to the state’s lack of confidence in the people’s confidence in them! In other words, if we let the people vote their conscience we’ll find out they disagree with our laws.

  • Me MyselfandI

    Thiede forgets that in our legal history, the purpose of a jury, dating to pre-Norman Anglo-Saxon law, was to weigh evidence and the law in light of community values and standards in in order to deliver a just verdict. Obviously, he prefers to have the jury bound to the decision of a fellow member of the legal cartel, the judge, who can issue instructions directing a verdict by limiting the discretion of the jury to exercise their vote. Mr. Thiede needs to be removed from his office as a result of his patent disrespect for democratic values, civil rights, and justice.

  • Danny Sprinkle

    His being arrested, charged, and prosecuted will reach more people through media coverage than all the pamphlets he could ever hand out. Plus, if the charges aren’t dropped, the court will be handing out the pamphlets to 12 more jurors…

  • Bob Robertson

    Lawlessness? The jury releasing people whose crime has not been proven IS THE LAW. The prosecutor doesn’t like having to WORK for a living.

  • Steve Yuhas

    This story didn’t reach civilization until today and it is a terrifying thing to see. The notion that a man would be arrested and face trial for passing out pamphlets is one of the worst examples of stifling the First Amendment I’ve ever seen. Arresting somebody for passing out pamphlets is bad enough, not dismissing before it got to the point of talking about witnesses is something worse. What’s next? Will the DA there order a gun round-up? Perhaps the DA will search and seize evidence without a warrant and one of your judges will hear motions on the obviously bad seizure? Then there is federalism in general – what other freedoms granted to every American does the DA not think extend to citizens of Mecosta County?

  • Robert Mcdonald

    So, police can take and keep your property without ever charging you with a crime much less you being convicted of a crime, but a man hands out a leaflet with nothing on it but facts, and gets threatened with 5 years in jail. Is this a great country or what.

  • pavepusher

    Dear Mr. Thiede,

    First Amendment, you Fascistm gutless wonder-fuck.

    You, and the police you coerced into violating their oath of office, should be publically flogged.

    Sincerely, The Citizens

  • Alan Wakefield

    Seeing the abysmal ignorance of the “judge” and “prosecutor” in this case, NOW, can you understand why the Founding Fathers specified ONLY born again Believers could hold public office, including the public office of Judge, Prosecutor and JUROR? The born again Believer holds himself Accountable to God for the way in which he renders his verdict in a court case. READ THE OATHS IN THOSE EARLY CONSTITUTIONS! You will have no argument that ONLY a Christian was qualified to hold public office. BECAUSE OF HIS SWORN RESPONSIBILTY TO GOD THAT HE “NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS!” DeToqueville reported on a case around 1830 in which the presiding judge refused the testimony of a witness when he learned the man was NOT a Believer, unqualified to give the Oath! If an un-Believer is unqualified to be a witness of a juror, how is it possible an un-Believer can possess the RIGHT to hold public office, or carry a gun? Un-Accountable as he is to God, the SOLE GRANTOR OF RIGHTS! OF COURSE this information is SHOCKING after two centuries of lies by those we have elected to public office! WHAT, THE FOUNDING FATHERS PLACED RESTRICTIONS IN THE CONSTITUTIONS THAT ONLY CHRISTIANS COULD HOLD PUBLIC OFFICE? IMPOSSIBLE! RIDICULOUS! The Founders would NEVER do that!…would they? Simple to resolve. Search those Oaths of Office in the early Constitutions and then you can PROVE me a liar! However, if you find me correct, please have the courtesy and courage to make note of that fact on the Internet and Facebook. Why in the world would an omniscient, Righteous God grant Rights to anyone who does not worship Him? The declaration of Independence tells us in no uncertain terms: RIGHTS ARE FROM GOD! Pray tell, has there EVER been an earthly “sovereign,” ANYWHERE, ANYTIME, who granted “rights” to any of his subjects who refused to recognize his “sovereignty?” That refusal generated the word “outlaw.” Those refusing to recognize the “sovereign” were characterized as “OUT from under protection of the king’s LAW,” thus “OUTLAW.”

  • darrell howley

    It appears that the big dogs in law enforcement ,prosecutors,the attorney generals office and the prosecutors association have adopted their own form of democracy. They make and enforce how they choose and what they choose. If you don’t comply with the state , they will appoint a special prosecutor and ruin your life !!! Never question the AG office in michigan !!!!

  • Nullify.US

    Jury nullification has been an important part of the US legal system, and as long as the US remains free, it will continue to be a part of the legal system. It’s been around for centuries and it still hasn’t created a so-called lawless nation. This prosecutor is just spreading FUD.

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