Monday, October 03, 2005


The Supreme Court refused to review a Colorado ruling that threw out a death sentence because the jury was unduly influenced by the Bible:
The justices declined to review a Colorado Supreme Court ruling that imposed a sentence of life imprisonment for Robert Harlan because jurors brought a Bible into the jury room and discussed the passage about an "eye for eye, tooth for tooth."

Without comment or recorded dissent, the nation's top court rejected an appeal by Colorado prosecutors who argued the introduction of the Bible into death penalty jury deliberations did not automatically violate the defendant's constitutional right to a fair trial.

Harlan was convicted and sentenced to death in 1995 for the kidnapping, rape and murder of a cocktail waitress who was on her way home from work at a casino. He also was convicted of shooting another woman who had given the waitress a ride.

According to the evidence, jurors brought a Bible, a Bible index and hand-written notes containing the location of passages into the jury room to share with another juror.

One passage stated: "Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, as he has caused disfigurement of a man, so shall it be done to him. And whoever kills an animal shall restore it, but whoever kills a man shall be put to death."

A trial judge overturned the death sentence after concluding that a reasonable possibility existed that use of the Bible would influence a typical juror to vote for the death penalty.

The Colorado Supreme Court agreed. "We can no longer say that Harlan's death sentence was not influenced by passion, prejudice or some other arbitrary factor," it ruled.

From a state's rights standpoint I can't much argue with their refusal to review it, but the court is awfully quick to support imaginary "rights" and awfully quick to pass over religious rights.

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