Frank Turney Dies - Remembered For Jury Rights

Nov 26, 2019

Jury rights advocate and Fairbanks city mayor candidate has died. Turney’s death was announced at the Fairbanks City Council meeting Monday night. He was 72.

Turney ran for Fairbanks City Council several times and also for city mayor three times. He was more concerned with bringing attention to issues than becoming a public administrator. He was a cannabis-legalization advocate, but he was probably best known for his long-term advocacy for broadening jurys’ rights to veto instructions given to juries by judges.

He was convicted of jury tampering in 1997 after he approached people wearing juror namtags, sometimes aggressively, in and out of the Fairbanks courthouse in 1994. He had regularly attended criminal trials and would give jurors advice about their right to nullify court rulings. Sometimes Turney would stand outside the courthouse and shout about jury rights. The court administrator wrote Turney a letter in 1994 asking him to stop. When he did not, he was charged and convicted of Criminal Trespass and Jury Tampering. He appealed, and as the case worked up to the Alaska Supreme Court, Turney was pleased with the publicity it brought to the issue.

Turney was born January 15, 1947. He moved from Oregon to Fairbanks in 1982, and started a snow-shoveling business downtown. He was a regular fixture at Fairbanks City Council meetings, giving comment on almost every agenda item at every meeting.