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JURY DOESN’T BUY DEFENDANT’S JURY TAMPERING ARGUMENT Frank Turney thinks jurors should be able to ignore a judge’s instructions and decide cases however they see fit. That’s a fine opinion to hold. The problem, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said last week, is that Turney’s evangelizing of the joys of jury nullification led to a hung jury in an Alaska criminal case. In 1994, Turney approached people wearing juror badges who were waiting for jury selection in the case. He encouraged them to call a hotline for a group of nullification activists, Fully Informed Jury Association. During deliberations, one of the people Turney had approached announced he had called the group’s number and was changing his vote because, “I can vote what I want.” The jury hung. Turney’s jury, on the other hand, did not. He was convicted in Alaska state court for violating a law prohibiting jury tampering. He lost at the Alaska Supreme Court and then filed a habeas corpus petition. Turney argued he was exercising his First Amendment right to freedom of speech and that the Alaska jury tampering law was overbroad. But a three-judge panel last week said he stepped over the line. “The First Amendment,” wrote Senior Judge Betty Fletcher, “does not shield the narrow but significant category of communications to jurors made outside of the auspices of the official proceeding and aimed at improperly influencing the outcome of a particular case.” Ninth Circuit Judge Ronald Gould and Hawaii Senior District Judge Samuel King, sitting by designation, joined Fletcher. The case is Turney v. Pugh, 05 C.D.O.S. 2243. — Jeff Chorney SHERIFF, COURT TANGLE OVER FEES A dispute between Alameda County’s sheriff and its superior court has quietly slipped off the calendar and is headed into private mediation. In November, Alameda County Sheriff Charles Plummer sued the Alameda County Superior Court for $3.2 million, the cost of providing courthouse security services during the 2002-03 fiscal year. The court, which contracts with the sheriff’s office for courthouse security, never paid up, Plummer said. The court still hasn’t paid. But in February, the county counsel’s office filed a request to dismiss without prejudice. “We agreed to mediate,” said Deputy County Counsel Richard Karlsson. “We had a meeting with them and we worked out a compromise.” Both sides still need to agree on a mediator, Karlsson said. Lynn Holton, a spokeswoman for the California Judicial Council, did not return calls seeking comment. According to the complaint, Court Executive Officer Arthur Sims informed the sheriff in April 2003 that the court couldn’t pay the full security tab of more than $16 million for the 2002-03 fiscal year. It paid some of the amount and promised to reimburse the sheriff for the rest, the complaint said. The court has paid for such services before and since the disputed period, according to the complaint. Karlsson said the county is unaware what other issues may be involved. “Presumably that’s what we’ll find out during mediation,” he said. — Warren Lutz MAN OF THE PEOPLE SPOTTED ON MUNI Two men dressed in nice business suits managed to push themselves aboard a packed underground San Francisco Muni train during the evening rush hour on March 14. A female acquaintance got left behind at Van Ness station, but yelled out that she’d catch up. “What’s wrong with Muni?” one of the men said lightheartedly as the sardine can disguised as a Muni car headed outbound. “I thought you said this would be faster.” Turns out the two guys armpit to armpit with all the other commuters were City Attorney Dennis Herrera and his press secretary, Matt Dorsey. They were headed to a 5 p.m. Castro rally celebrating that day’s court ruling declaring same-sex marriage bans unconstitutional. Obviously happy with the decision, the two guys couldn’t wait to join the party. After a couple of congratulations and a thank you from one passenger, Herrera and Dorsey disembarked at Castro station and headed upstairs where a small crowd had gathered to hear speeches and exchange hugs and kisses. Herrera took the microphone at one point, proclaiming victory and vowing never to give up the fight for same-sex marriage rights. The crowd cheered gustily and soon afterward marched down Market Street for another gathering at City Hall. We’re not sure whether Herrera and crew joined the parade back to City Hall — or jumped back on Muni. — Mike McKee

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