From the March 2006 Idaho Observer:
Juror perjury case dismissed
Idaho declines to persecute Asher for perjury; lives to murder jury rights another day
It appears that a groundswell of justifiable outrage caused the perjury charges against a former juror to be dropped. Rather than suffer the public relations nightmare that would have resulted had the state of Idaho continued with the prosecution of the much loved and respected Carol Asher of Kamiah, the case was dismissed in magistrate court March 7, 2006. The case may have been dropped for now, but successfully delivered an important message: "Jury rights ‘insurgents’ will teach jury nullification to fellow jurors at their own peril."
By The Idaho Observer
GRANGEVILLE—The case and charges against Carol Asher were dismissed at a preliminary hearing held in Grangeville, Idaho, March 7, 2006. Magistrate Michael Griffin determined the prosecution did not meet its burden of proof that Asher perjured herself to be chosen as a juror for a July, 2005, drug possession trial.
The controversy centers around a point of law decided during the trial of William Edward Clark in which District Judge John Bradbury had determined that the police search of a man’s work vehicle during a traffic stop, which turned up a small amount of methamphetamine, was legal. Charges were filed against Asher after a fellow juror complained that, during jury deliberations, she explained how she did not agree that the search was legal and that her conscience answered to an authority higher than the judge.
Three other jurors agreed with Asher and Clark was acquitted.
Because Asher allegedly withheld her beliefs about the rights and responsibilities of the jury to the court during the jury selection process, the state attorney general’s office reasoned that she had committed an act of perjury and should be criminally prosecuted. The charges against Asher prompted a three-week wave of opposition from jury rights advocates all over the country. At the March 7 proceeding scores of concerned citizens overflowed the little courtroom which court administrators conveniently chose for the contested case. Dozens of respectful and well-behaved citizens awaited a ruling outside the courtroom. According to Rose Johnson of the Idaho Judicial Accountability Act of 2006, "Some prayed quietly—others walked and talked of the disgraceful behavior of certain elected officials in this case—and all talked of the need for judge and prosecutor accountability."
Asher is a former school teacher and a former nun who has worked with Jack McLamb at the Aid & Abet Police Newsletter for several years. She is well known by people all over the world as an uncommonly kind and loving person who has dedicated her life to being of service to others in need. Unable to resist an attempt to malign this wonderful woman as an anti-government extremist, Jodi Walker of The Lewiston Tribune described Asher as living "…in Dove of the Valley, a covenant community started by Gerald (Jack) McLamb, a former Phoenix police officer who brought his conspiracy theories and pro-militia ideas to Idaho. He teamed up with Bo Gritz as a co-investor of Almost Heaven and Shenandoah."
Walker further inferred that security was heightened at the courthouse in anticipation of an unruly mob of "Asher’s supporters—many with known militia and anti-government ideas."
Walker did report that Asher’s supporters "filed orderly into the courtroom after passing through security leaving about half of Asher’s supporters in the waiting area as the courtroom reached capacity."
The charges against Asher were dismissed after Judge Griffin ruled that the state failed to prove that Asher engaged in a willful disruption of justice by not revealing she may have a political or religious conflict during jury questioning. Though Judge Griffin decided that the state did not meet the requirements that would have justified moving the case to district court, he did tell Asher that she does not have the authority, as a juror, to disagree with a matter of law decided by a judge.
Asher’s attorney Wesley Hoyt of Kooskia was assisted by Paul K. Grant, a jury-rights advocate attorney from Colorado.
Justin Whatcott of the Attorney General’s Office took over as prosecutor for the case after Idaho County Prosecutor Kirk MacGregor recused himself because he was the prosecuting attorney in the criminal trial in which Asher was a juror.
Prior to the dismissal, McLamb pointed out the absurdity of the charges: "If these charges result in a conviction, what does that mean for juries in America? It will mean that, after being chosen to sit on a jury, the jurors will have to be Mirandized—‘you have the right to remain silent; anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.’ And, each juror will need to have a public defender appointed to sit by his side to make sure what he says during deliberations could not be construed as a criminally-intended ‘disruption of justice.’"
Note: The most important function of a citizen in a free nation is to sit in judgment of his fellow countrymen. Curiously, we graduate from high school completely ignorant of the jury’s preeminent role in our system of justice. It is our job to succeed where the schools have failed: We must teach our people the real rights and responsibilities of a juror. (DWH)
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