Sunday, February 06, 2005

Theocracy through jury nullification 

I wonder how many times this has happened that we don't know about?

On Tuesday, the Colorado Supreme Court heard argument on the issue of whether Harlan's death sentence was correctly overturned by a lower-court judge when it became known that Harlan's jurors researched biblical passages when not in deliberations and then brought at least one Bible into the jury room during sentencing deliberations in order to persuade one holdout juror to vote for death.

Adams County District Judge John Vigil noted at the time that "the biblical passages involved not only encouraged the death penalty but required that it be imposed when another life is taken. The passages also directed jurors to take guidance from and obey the government. They left jurors with no discretion." The passages cited - "fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth"; "whoever kills a man shall be put to death" - contradict Colorado's sentencing scheme in many ways.
(via Denver Post)

Again, how widespread is this?

The essential Orcinus has noted that gays are the new Jews. When the wingers finally take their eliminationist rhetoric seriously, and start murdering gays, will they then be freed by their Bible-clutching brethren on the jury?

More concretely: Is the "Christian" right infiltrating the jury system the way they have infiltrated the school boards?

UPDATE Googling around, I found this at once, which led me to the following Juror's Handbook:

Nor does any "law" forbid a jury from pardoning a man who violated an unjust statute, even if an acquittal requires them to ignore the court's instructions on the law. The Constitution does no such thing; it actually protects the jury's right to acquit based on their sense of justice. The penal code does not criminalize such conduct, and would be clearly unconstitutional if it did. Not even the Bible imposes any such rule. See Deuteronomy 16:20 ("Follow justice and justice alone"). If there is any such "law," it is true only in the narrow sense of illegitimate case law made up by judges acting well beyond the scope of their lawful authority.

The subtext here, of course, is Leviticus 20:13.

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