Saturday, August 16, 2008

Court Says Jury Can't Use a Bible

Khristian Oliver was convicted of murder. During the sentencing phase, several jurors brought Bibles to the jury room.

The question is: did the jury prejudice the sentencing when they read passages like Numbers 35:16 that reads: "But if he struck him down with an iron object, so that he died, he is a murderer; the murderer shall surely be put to death"
Oliver's attorney explained: "This poor old farmer, he got shot and when he was lying outside on the ground, he was struck with the barrel of a gun. So he was literally struck with an iron rod. You could say God and Moses anticipated this exact thing if you take a literal view of it. And that's got a lot of potential for mischief." Attorney Sue Korioth, who handled an earlier appeal in the case, said there was no implication that jurors voted based on Scripture. She said: "Several [jurors]... carried Bibles in and out like my daughter carries her 'Seventeen' magazine. It was just their reading material." (Link.)

The Houston Chronicle reports the court decided that the Bible should not have been used, but there was no influence on the jury from the Bible. The court said:

Oliver argues that the jury violated his rights under the Sixth and Eighth Amendments by considering passages from the Bible during the sentencing phase of its deliberations. Although the jury improperly consulted the Bible, the state court found that the Bible did not influence the jury’s decision. As Oliver has not presented clear and convincing evidence to rebut this factual finding, we AFFIRM the district court’s decision to deny the writ.

So a whole bunch of jurors --- in TX, mind you --- just happened to be carrying around their Bibles for light reading when sitting on a jury. Yeah, right. How often do those jury members carry around their Bible the rest of the time, hmmm? Me thinks the court turned a deaf hear to reason on this one. I have no idea about the conviction & must assume the guy is guilty since he has been convicted. However, the sentencing leaves doubt as to whether the guy got a fair decision.

1 comment:

foxofbama said...

Check my not my Nieghborhood blog and engage the link to Newsweek's Berlinbleau there or with a blog on same subject of your own.
Love to see what You and Georgia Mtns think of it.