Death Penalty Thrown Out Because Jury Discussed Scripture

March 29, 2005

Check out this story on reporting:

In a 3-2 vote on Monday, justices ordered Robert Harlan to serve life without parole for kidnapping Rhonda Maloney and raping her at gunpoint for two hours before fatally shooting her.

As a lawyer I understand jurors are supposed to follow jury instructions and not refer to extraneous sources of any kind. But a dissenting justice wrote:

It is important to note that the concept of extraneous information does not include the general knowledge a juror brings to court.

Have you ever noticed the facility with which we ban the Bible and other things Christian? If this had been any other book — including, I dare say, holy books of other religions — I am very doubtful that we’d see a reversal in this case. By the way, as a lawyer, I also remember the principle that courts are supposed to be very hesitant to inquire into the things that go on behind closed doors in the jury room. But I suppose when it comes to our secular society’s hot buttons about Christianity it doesn’t take much to relax that principle. This case also shows how eager we are to bend over backward to spare the lives of the guilty (this guy confessed to rape and murder.) The only people who get the breaks are the bad guys.