Man sues over jury tampering case after conviction overturned

Michigan
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Keith Wood in court on June 1, 2017.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A man whose jury tampering conviction was thrown out by the Michigan Supreme Court is suing the officials who were involved in his arrest and prosecution.

77th District Court Judge Peter Jaklevic, Mecosta County Court Administrator Thomas Lyons, Mecosta County Prosecutor Brian Thiede, Michigan Department of Natural Resources Detective Janet Erlandson, Mecosta County and the state of Michigan are listed as defendants in the lawsuit filed in federal court Tuesday by Keith Wood.

In a 28-page suit, Wood argues that the defendants violated his rights to free speech and his protection against unlawful search and seizure and conspired to deprive him of his civil rights. The suit also claims Wood was falsely imprisoned and maliciously prosecuted, and that the people involved violated their oaths of office.

The charges stem from Wood handing out pamphlets to a few people outside the Mecosta County Courthouse in Big Rapids in November 2015. The fliers discussed the controversial legal idea of jury nullification, which argues that jurors have the right to ignore a law they believe is wrong and vote according to their conscience when deciding whether to convict someone.

Wood was found guilty of misdemeanor jury tampering in 2017. He appealed his case up to the Michigan Supreme Court, which ruled in July 2020 that Wood couldn’t be guilty of jury tampering since the people he approached were not empaneled jurors.

Wood was sentenced to eight weekends in jail. He served three of those, his lawsuit says, before his sentence was paused as his appeal was underway.

In his suit, Wood asked for the court to ensure the defendants don’t do something similar in the future. The suit also asked for monetary damages, but doesn’t list a dollar amount.

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