Thursday, August 3, 2017

JURY NULLIFICATION: Fusaro Found Not Guilty

A jury in Anne Arundel County MD circuit court has found Dennis Fusaro, a libertarian activist, and Steve Waters not guilty in a case brought by the state of Maryland.

This appears to be a case of heroic jury nullification and a victory for free and anonymous speech against government harassment.

The charges against Fusaro and Waters stemmed from a 2014 robocall that went to about 5,000 conservative Anne Arundel County, Maryland residents the weekend before the 2014 election, "congratulating" Democratic County Council candidate Patrick Armstrong "for his bravery in coming out of the closet" and linking him to a controversial measure that banned discrimination against transgender people in public areas, including restrooms.

Fusaro worked for the campaign of Armstrong's opposition  Michael Anthony Peroutka, Peroutka was elected to the Council but has denied any knowledge of the call.

The recording gave the home phone number of Armstrong's mother and invited residents to call about Armstrong's support of "the bathroom bill."

Maryland state prosecutors said the call lacked the appropriate identification and came from what they described as "an untraceable" prepaid cell phone which they traced to a purchase with cash by Waters and Fusaro at Walmart in Fredericksburg, Va.

"The call in question failed to identify Fusaro and Waters as the persons responsible for the call, and failed to state whether it was authorized by any candidate," prosecutors said in a statement. "Instead, the call falsely stated that it was 'Paid for and authorized by Marylanders for Transgenders'" the statement said, adding that prosecutors believe the pair bought burner phones "in an effort to conceal their identities as the persons authorizing and paying for the call."

Fusaro and Waters were both charged with two counts — violating and conspiring to violate the authority line requirements of Maryland election laws. They were found not on all counts.

Since the facts of the case seem pretty clear, this verdict by the Maryland jury appears to be a case of jury nullification and a slap at the oppressive electoral speech regulations of the state.

In a statement to Target Liberty, Fusaro said:
Hiding their ideological agenda behind prosecutorial discretion, prosecutor  Elmo Davitt and his merry band of speech-suppressing agents, pick and choose who will be punished all with an eye to enforcing an acceptable range of discussion about controversial public policy issues in Maryland.

The Office of the Maryland Special Prosecutor decides which procedural mistakes are hammered and which are not.  That gives them substative message control by using their procedural power.

Taxpayers in Maryland who are concerned with their first amendment rights should rise up and have that office shut down by petitioning their legislature for redress of grievances.


1 comment:

  1. Hooray! The only bad part is that sane Americans have so few such tiny victories to cheer.