Saturday, February 18, 2006

The case of the Bible-quoting juror

In Robinson v. Polk, the Fourth Circuit in an opinion by Judge Williams, with Judge Shedd concurring and Judge King dissenting, refused the habeas petition of a North Carolina inmate, where one of his claims was that his constitutional rights were violated because one of the jurors was citing the Bible during the deliberations on his sentence.

Evidently, the citation was not Exodus 20:13 or Romans 6:23, but instead something more like Exodus 21:23-25.

Judge King, in his dissent, says our constitutional system cannot tolerate the influence of the King James Bible on jurors: "when a jury’s deliberations have been contaminated by an improper external influence — even if that influence relates to the Bible of England’s first Stuart King — public confidence in our judicial system is undermined and the jury’s verdict must not be enforced."

Professor Berman has this interesting post about the case.

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