Monday, May 26, 2003

There we go -- Death Sentence Overturned Because Jury Used Bible
As nearly as I can tell, this applies only to the penulty, not the murder conviction itself, so the guy is not likely to just walk away, but I still do not understand a couple of things. First, the guy was tried a jury of his peers, which in Denver has got to include at least a couple of people who are Christians. The quote in question ("eye for an eye") is not exactly an obsure reference, and whether someone looked in the Bible or not does not change the fact that all of the jurors agreed to give him the death penulty. Does it matter if the bible was from a hotel room or brought by one of the jurors? Is not the reason for having death penulty stems from that very same Bible passage? Secondly, if having consulted a moral reference by a juror is grounds for sentene dismissal, then we really cannot have a jury with a Jainism follower on it -- as s/he will object to death penalty? We have laws that limit the vigilantisment of local juries, and local juries to apply some sort of currently prevalent community standard for the crimes. We have attorneys that select the best jury they can. That's the system -- why should a judge be allowed to meddle with it? I can only presume that if they returned the non-death penalty verdict by consulting a different passage in the Bible the judge would throw it out too? Maybe not -- and that's the reason he should not throw out this verdict either.
Another thought -- is not this a form of religious discrimination to not allow Christians to consult *their* moral reference, while the judge is free to consult the constitution -- his reference? Presumably the same would apply to Budhists or Muslims -- no point of reference for them either. Cannot wait until we drag lie-detectors for the jury into the courts, "Did you think of Confucious during deliberations? Aha. Mistrial!"
We have a process for selecting juries that is supposed to weed-out those jurors who are biased to make a decision regardless of evidence presented. In this case the whole jury decided, not just a couple of people who consulted the Bible, on the death penalty.


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