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The Law Blogger is a law-related blog that informs and discusses current matters of legal interest to readers of The Oakland Press and to consumers of legal services in the community. We hope readers will  find it entertaining but also informative. The Law Blogger does not, however, impart legal advice, as only attorneys are licensed to provide legal counsel.
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Friday, November 8, 2013

Ex-Convict Jailed For Response To Jury Questionaire

There is a little known law here in Michigan that requires residents of any county to completely fill out and return a Jury Questionnaire.  Specifically, here is what we are all obligated to do pursuant to a chapter of our "catchall" statute known as the Revised Judicature Act:
Persons on the first jury list are required to return the questionnaire fully answered to the [County's] jury board within 10 days after it is received. [Bracket Supplied]
Last Monday, a resident of Bay County and ex-convict, reported to the Bay County Jail after have been held in contempt of court by Judge Joseph Sheeran for violating the above statute.

The man was held in contempt for completing his questionnaire with vulgarities and for scribbling things such as:
Leave me alone!! Please. Die in Hell Pigs/Judges/DAs.
He also told the judges to "f-off" and had other choice things to say that we will not print here at the Law Blogger.  The man's redacted handiwork can be viewed by clicking here.

This prospective juror's criminal defense lawyer could not keep the man from a jail sentence, however brief.  As noted by Judge Sheeran, all this man had to do was to disclose his ex-convict status and he would have been excused.

Was this individual as stupid as he accused the judges and county government workers being?  Or does he have the right to redress the government with an inartful complaint?

The interesting thing about this case is whether the citizen was entitled to "editorialize" his responses, incomplete as they were, as a part of his First Amendment right to freedom of expression and to petition the government with his grievances.  Or is his conduct and speech simply subject to the usual "time and place" restrictions relative to things [like census forms, tax returns, and other documents] that the government requires us to fill-out and file with one of their subdivisions?

Mi-Live's coverage of this man's conviction is replete with over 100 comments giving the many flavors, some frivilous, others quite serious, of our collective public view of such conduct, speech and government action.  Here are some of the comments this story has generated among the professionals, courtesy of the ABA.

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