Jury conferring with the Bible

  • News
  • Thread starter Loren Booda
  • Start date
  • #26
Moonbear said:
Well, the judge and jury are supposed to be bound by the letter of the law.
From what I understand of jury nullification, no they are not.
----edit-----
http://msnbcmedia.msn.com/j/msnbc/Components/Video/050329/nn_pwms_bible_050329.275w.jpg
I somehow doubt that he will want to appeal this one.
----and again----
I just saw that it said he was saved from death row.
He was saved because of the technicality yes.
 
Last edited:
  • #27
fifiki
TheStatutoryApe said:
Exactly. Due to the screening process it is far less likely that such a person would make it through into the jury. Aswell if such a person were to somehow make it through I'd expect they would not be recieved well by the other jurors and likely be removed from the jury were the person to harangue them with bible verse.

More than that jurors have the right to make decisions based on their personal beliefs and conscience. It's one of the main points of the trial by jury. But why does "extraneous text" pose a problem? Simply for the fact that it is a written document?
Since we are going on hypotheticals here what if a priest was called to jury duty and his natural instinct kicks in while he's in deliberation and he begins to relate everything to verse and his religion? Is this then a violation of the seperation of church and state? Should he be removed from the jury because he is siting bible verse in deliberation? Is he somehow now less than an average citizen and unable to participate in a jury? Or does this only apply to the written word?

At any rate... my real question here is mainly in regards to what latitude if any should be given to jurors who feel they need ethical or moral support for a decision regarding the death sentance? Or do you feel that they should not be allowed to participate in the jury if they would feel they need support in making such a decision?
I have a distinct feeling that you have not really read my above post at all. Let me summarize: prejudice, possibly unconstitutional, bias, deciding based on something other than law....

As I have said before, we are not to totally disassociate a person from their personal beliefs when they become a juror. In fact the courts are relying on their common sense, morals and perceptions. The court relies on it when the jurors observe things during the trial, evidence presented, the credibility of witnesses, etc.

I don't quite understand what you were trying to say in the first paragraph of the quote above. You are making a lot of assumptions about what people will or will not do. This is a court system, it cannot simply arbitrarily go by what one believes might happen but to have a system designed to protect people's liberty and ensure as much fairness as possible. The courts try not to underestimate the importance of biases and underlying perceptions which each juror comes into the court with.

That is why the lawyer and the judge gives all of this careful consideration This is a very important element in skilled advocacy. So voir dire is devoted to try to get as much information as possible concerning these beliefs, values, biases of each juror. Sometimes those long held beliefs don't die too easily, even in the face of contradictory information. Jurors are to based their decisions on their common sense and beliefs and most importantly on the FACTS of the case. Sometimes no matter how much evidence you present, people hold on to those long held beliefs. The danger of having a bible with them is that they will rely on the bible in place of the facts and the evidence. So it is very likely that a priest will be excused via the use of a preemptory challenge and they are excused from jury duty based merely on their profession. Also, sometimes, people fall into the habit of relying on someone else to make decisions for them.

The bible has direct references to the death penalty and undeniably considered to some to be their guiding posts as laws. Therefore, this can be considered legal content. The court did not authorize the introduction of the bible. So in this case, it was improperly before the jury and since it was extraneous, outside information, the court must take this into consideration. The accused might have been unfairly prejudiced by it's introduction. It's not just the mere fact that it's "extraneous information", it's improper if it influenced the verdict to the detriment of the accused.

Typically, in considering a death penalty, the juror must be convinced without a reasonable doubt that death is the appropriate sentence and MUST NOT be influenced by passion, prejudice, or any other arbitrary factor. Also, they must consider all RELEVANT EVIDENCE. The Bible may have been a large factor in influencing a juror to vote for death instead of life. So if a juror introduces a bible to show to another juror that a death sentence is the proper course--there is a good chance that that juror was influenced to vote for death. There is a very strict process for this.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
  • #28
russ_watters
Mentor
19,319
5,354
TheStatutoryApe said:
From what I understand of jury nullification, no they are not.
Jury nullification is no so simple a question, but it does no apply to this case. The misconduct of the jury was not in overturning the law on the crime in question, but rather one of procedure. Incompetence vs misconduct. Either way, its a flaw in our legal system, and one that is very tough to deal with.
 
  • #29
SOS2008
Gold Member
24
1
I just received a Jury Summons today (of all days, April Fools day, huh?). When I went to vote this last election, they didn't show me as registered, even though I've never moved out of the county etc., so I don't think my vote was counted. In the process of trying to make sure my registration was updated to be correct, it no doubt put me in the pool for jury duty.

Oh and I should add: I need to complete a Trial Juror Information form, and Race/Ethnicity/Gender must be indicated "to ensure all people are represented on juries." And guess what, the return envelope does not have pre-paid postage -- you would think the US Postal Service could cover me for at least 37 cents.
 
Last edited:

Related Threads for: Jury conferring with the Bible

  • Last Post
3
Replies
64
Views
6K
  • Last Post
Replies
6
Views
3K
Replies
27
Views
4K
  • Last Post
Replies
24
Views
519
  • Last Post
Replies
20
Views
7K
  • Last Post
2
Replies
46
Views
5K
Replies
54
Views
5K
  • Last Post
5
Replies
101
Views
12K
Top