Immigration Trial Ends In ‘Jury Nullification’

Richard Shugrue
For The Daily Record

A federal jury in Tucson deadlocked last week in a case in which a humanitarian was charged with transporting and harboring a Central American trying to get into the U.S.

The case was only one of a number of prosecutions in southern Arizona in recent months arising from entry on government land and aid to migrants.

The offense, the government said, took place in the vast and inhospitable desert lands known as the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge on the border between Mexico and southwest Arizona. The defendant is a college geography professor who belongs to a religious charity known as No More Deaths.

The felony prosecution of Scott David Warren was part of the Trump administration crackdown on illegal entry of the undocumented.

There was no allegation that Warren was facilitating sex traffic or il­licit employment. The defense stated that travel in this area was under inhumane conditions and Warren sought to quench the thirst and feed those who came across an awful part of the land.

The wildlife refuge extends as long as the distance between Lincoln and Omaha at the Mexican-U.S. border and the route up toward the community of Ajo, Arizona, is no tidy “yellow brick road.” The gov­ernment has argued that trespass violates the “pristine” nature of the land which covers almost 900,000 acres (larger than the state of Rhode Island).

More than 9,000 humans have died heading to the U.S. border since 1990, many from thirst, starvation and exposure to the elements. “No More Deaths,” a charity affiliated with the Unitarian Universalist church, patrols the desert and provides water, food, clothes, blan­kets and first aid to people escaping violence and terrorism in Central America.

The trial was widely publicized in Arizona where there is a common belief that it was decided by virtue of “jury nullification.”

The government has not announced whether it will seek to retry the case and Federal Judge Raner Collins set July 2 for a status conference.



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