Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Cert. Petition Filed In Case Challenging Jurors' Use of Bible

Yesterday, a petition for certiorari (full text) was filed in Oliver v. Quarterman. In the case, the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals held that a jury's use of the Bible during the sentencing phase in a murder case was improper, but was not shown to have influenced the jury's decision. (See prior posting.) [Thanks to Scott Gant for the lead.]


Christian Apologist said...

It seems that the bible was not used in this instance as external evidence to the two questions posed to the jury.

The first question posed is to the likelyhood of repeated offense. Nothing in the specific passage quoted speaks to this. In fact if the bible were used as external evidence to this question it would more probably point to the concept that a criminal can be changed for the better.

As to the second question of whether there are any mitigating circumstances why the death penalty should not be used this passage also does not present any external evidence. In this case some specific fact about the defendent would have to be brought up, and again the repeated theme of forgiveness in the Bible would tend to prompt a juror to find possitively on this charge, not negatively, as is required for a death sentence.

It seems most likely that the passage was used in this case to determine whether the sentence required by civil law, was acceptable to the jurors in view of their religious convictions.

It would have been a very good question to ask the specific jurors who read the bible aloud as to the purpose behind the reading. While the effect cannot accurately be quantified the purpose of using the bible can be ascertained and should be in all cases where it is used.

Supremacy Claus said...

Was a false verdict rendered? No. So this lawyer parsing of technicality to reverse the result of a trial. If I were a judge, I would sanction a lawyer proposing it for wasting the time of the court. Why is the Supreme Court certing it? To generate lawyer jobs, by encouraging collateral, irrelevant, harmless violations.