By Mark Wachtler
(ONN) On July 17, all grassroots causes lost a friend and ally. Regardless of your political persuasion, Larry Dodge of the Fully Informed Jury Association fought for you. Whether your thing is animal rights, anti-war, legalizing pot, defending the Constitution, pro-life, pro-choice – if you were one of We The People, he was on your side. And if you found yourself in a courtroom facing down the government, Larry Dodge insisted the jury could acquit you just because you were being tried over a bogus charge and a bogus law.
The first days of FIJA in 1990. Larry Dodge is on the far left. Image courtesy of the Fully Informed Jury Association.
Fighting the fight ‘old school’
Your author remembers FIJA well from the late 80’s and early 90’s. During those days, I had launched the American Research Institute and then The Liberty House. And while I never met or spoke to Larry Dodge, we did correspond via mail a few times. But that was before the internet was invented. It was a time when grassroots meant making black and white copies at the local hardware store and passing them out in your neighborhood and blitzing the grocery store parking lot.
Larry Dodge and FIJA stand out in this writer’s mind because his was one of the few organizations out there that was in it for the cause, not the money, fame or self-gratification. FIJA was always willing to help out, donate boxes of fliers whether we could pay or not, and never seemed to have a harsh word for the left or the right. Everybody liked Larry Dodge and FIJA, and appreciated what they did.
For a real-life example from the trenches, many a jury has been swayed to the cause of justice and liberty thanks to FIJA. With family and friends passing out FIJA brochures outside the courthouse of an unjustly persecuted and prosecuted loved one, countless jurists have been reminded of their right to vote their conscience and against an unjust law. To quantify their impact, many a jury has been officially removed simply because they were “spoiled” by FIJA brochures. Score one for the good guys.
Larry Dodge 1942 – 2012
The FIJA website posts a touching tribute to Mr. Dodge. Just like this author remembers the man himself, FIJA begins its announcement with a no-apologies, freedom-fighting anthology.
From the Fully Informed Jury Association:
‘Larry Dodge, who co-founded FIJA with Don Doig in 1989, escaped on Tuesday, 17 July 2012, from the police state he spent much of his adult life trying to put back into its box. A staunch libertarian and defender of the Common Law and free markets, Larry lived his life according to his conscience. His interests and efforts spoke consistently of a man devoted to justice, liberty, and individual freedom.’
The FIJA announcement by one of its long-time organizers goes on to give a glimpse into the early days of the organization and Mr. Dodge’s passionate and sincere effort on behalf of justice and liberty. The tribute describes:
‘I first met Larry in 1990, when he and Don met with me at the D-M Restaurant (for those of you not brand readers, that’s D Bar M) in Drummond, Montana, where we began to lay out the plans for the organization, its board, and first board meeting of FIJA, the growing organization which they had begun about a year earlier, throwing themselves into the message and mission with energetic and passionate zeal. They were both on fire with the message of independent, conscientious, informed jurors!’
With FBI death squads, Ruby Ridge, Waco, OKC and Janet Reno rounding up or assassinating every freedom fighter in America in those days, we were all in favor of “independent, conscientious, informed jurors”.
The post ends with words and feelings many of us share:
‘Larry’s passion, intelligence, and vision will be missed by all of us here at FIJA, and throughout the far-flung community of freedom fighters around the globe. We have lost a good friend.’
Fully Informed Jury Association
For those readers not familiar with FIJA, this is your lucky day. Below is an excerpt from the group’s website that describes what its mission is all about. And as mentioned earlier, regardless of whether you’re a freedom fighter on the left or the right, FIJA is a friend.
From the FIJA website:
‘The FIJA mission is to educate Americans regarding their full powers as jurors, including their ability to rely on personal conscience, to judge the merit of the law and its application, and to nullify bad law, when necessary for justice, by finding for the defendant.
The Fully Informed Jury Association (FIJA) is a nonpartisan public policy research and education organization located in Helena, Montana. FIJA focuses on issues involving the role of the jury in our justice system and the preservation of the full function of the jury as the final arbiter in our courts of law. The FIJA mission is to inform all Americans about their rights, powers and responsibilities when serving as trial jurors. FIJA works to restore the political function of the jury as the final check and balance on our American system of government.’
On behalf of Whiteout Press. Good bye Larry Dodge, and thank you.
For more information, visit the Fully Informed Jury Association