Friday, March 03, 2006

Judge's Order To Remove Bible Does Not Invalidate Conviction

In State v. Albertson (Feb. 28, 2006), a Minnesota state court of appeals rejected a religious freedom claim brought by Mark Albertson in a challenge to his conviction for having sexual relations with his 13-year old niece. At trial, the judge had asked why a Bible was on the corner of counsel table. Defense counsel said that the Bible belonged to Albertson, and that counsel did not plan to use it for purposes of the trial. The judge then told Albertson to put the Bible on his lap or under his chair. The court of appeals held that the trial court had "a compelling interest of conducting a trial in a secular, impartial, orderly manner," and that justified the order to hide the Bible from view.