Convicted murder Kristian Oliver was a bit put out when he learned that jurors relied not simply on the evidence but biblical passages during their deliberations to convict him. The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has ruled that the use of a biblical passage in jury deliberations is not enough to warrant reversal of his death sentence.
The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas found that, while jurors cited the passage, it did not influence the jury’s decision — a rather difficult finding to prove or disprove.
The passage in question is from Numbers:
And if he smite him with an instrument of iron, so that he die, he is a murderer: the murderer shall surely be put to death. And if he smite him with throwing a stone, wherewith he may die, and he die, he is a murderer: the murderer shall surely be put to death. Or if he smite him with an hand weapon of wood, wherewith he may die, and he die, he is a murderer: the murderer shall surely be put to death. The revenger of blood himself shall slay the murderer: when he meeteth him, he shall slay him. Numbers 35:16-19 (King James).
That seems pretty inimical to a fair deliberation based solely on the evidence in the case. Indeed, the opinion itself shows that the reading triggered a more comprehensive discussion of the biblical requirements in dealing with murderers.
One juror, Kenneth Grace, read the Bible aloud to a small group of jurors in the corner of the jury room. McHaney also testified that fellow juror Donna Matheny mentioned to him that the Bible contained a passage discussing who is a murderer and who should be put to death, and that he asked Matheny if he could read her Bible, which Matheny had highlighted. McHaney recalled reading verses pertaining to the importance of obeying the law of the land, the commandment that “thou shalt not kill,” and the passage Matheny pointed out that discussed who is a murderer and who deserves a death sentence. In particular,here called reading a passage that says that if a man strikes someone with an iron object so that he dies, then he is a murderer and should be put to death.
The Supreme Court has repeatedly held that outside sources used in the jury room are presumptively prejudicial to the proceedings. Parker v. Gladden, 385 U.S. 363, 364-65 (1966) (“the evidence developed against a defendant shall come from the
witness stand in a public courtroom where there is full judicial protection of the
defendant’s right of confrontation, of cross-examination, and of counsel”). Yet, the Ninth Circuit refused to reverse in a similar case, click here.
This case seems to involve a much more serious use of an external religious text than the mere case of a juror taking a Bible into the proceedings as a personal item of support. Here, there was direct consultation that linked passages to the case at hand and the moral basis for the ultimate punishment.
For the opinion, click here
33 thoughts on “No Reprieve for Khristian Condemned by Bible Passages”
There seems to be more than a little hypocrisy of Bush having his lackeys saying that military force is not they way to implement regime change in Georgia in the 21st century. No one seems to be calling the Republicans on that though.
Jonathan, get in touch, man. You need a spelling checker asap.
How can we expect the American people to be smart enough not to re-elect Bush when the smartest law professor of the country has a blog that contains more typo’s than anything else? I seriously wonder if Iraq was invaded because of a typo at the White House or the CIA… Ah, who cares about a Q or an N anyway, right?
2) Currently, oil refineries are running at or near capacity. Even allowed greater access to oil would not improve their ability to produce any more gasoline.
3) During the Reagan administration vast stretches of land were allowed for drilling exploration and continue to be untouched today, lands that clearly hold more potential oil prospects than even ANWR. Why then are the politicians calling for more land, not more drilling of the land already available?
None of this even begins to address the charge that you make concerning Obama and oil money. Considering who the oil companies are backing for president, I don’t believe that statement holds much water. But, if you think Obama really wants to send our money overseas then why does he support alternative energy research and development so adamantly?
I have appealed to you before for a discussion on aspects of your posts, so I hold no real hope for a legitimate reply to my request this time. But, when you say, “I bet you are a ‘no drilling in America’ Obama supporter that thinks it wise to send hundreds of billions of dollars to countries that do not like us and even want to see us destroyed.” Please explain to me what on earth you are talking about.
I understand that old supply and demand rhetoric, I took macro economics in college as well. However, there are numerous flaws in the belief that opening up these lands for drilling would increase supply any significant amount… ever. For the sake of clarity I will enumerate just a few.
1) Legislation previously passed through congress, supported by McCain, would allow for any oil obtained from the process to be sold on the world market. Therefore, that oil would be added to the already large quantities of oil there, severely limiting its impact on oil pricing since the world supply would barely change.
Please do not shut down your site. I do not post often. I don’t always feel I have much to contribute. However, I enjoy it immensely. I found it through your work with Keith on Countdown. I enjoyed your segments very much and am glad to see your site every day. It is a small space for rational and sympathetic people to share their thoughts. I don’t pretend you should spend your time managing a webpage for myself, but I imagine the other frequenters of this blog feel much the same way.
JT says: “I would sooner shut down the site than be a host for such personal and insulting exchanges. ”
Mespo says:”I have decided to curtail much of my posting…..”
And then Russ says: “mespo:You remind me of the Russians…fearful…thugs…murderers…want to see us destroyed.”
LL says: That attack could not have been better on cue if disruption is the point of Russ’s posts. I can’t help but wonder if there aren’t elements “out there” who are going “oh boy, oh boy, Turley might shut down his blog. Just a few more attacks, and by George…”
Thy name is nonsequitur!
I am hopeful that the Supremes would overturn this, but I am not holding my breath.
I hope this guy appeals to the Supremes – even with the conservative environment in DC, the Justices should not be happy with this nonsense!
Joan, a lawyer in MD
You remind me of the Russians that sit fearfully by and watch their country taken over again by the same thugs and murderers that ran the old Soviet Union!
I bet you are a “no drilling in America’ Obama supporter that thinks it wise to send hundreds of billions of dollars to countries that do not like us and even want to see us destroyed.
God Bless John McCain!
How can one who declares knowing when life commences is above his paygrade ever get a single vote in America? Obama will get millions of votes but will lose the election by a landslide.
I welcome JT’s insistence on civility here. I have no interest in watching a war between two religions fought over every posting whether religion is relevant or not. I have decided to curtail much of my posting for this reason in the hopes we could get back to honest debate about issues independent of nationality or religion. Some commentators are one issue people and they seem to view every happenstance through that prism. Deeply were are you old friend?
This case does seem a little over the top in the use of the Bible in the deliberations by the jury. I hope they appeal this decision, but I am concerned that the Bush Supremes may not overturn it. This gets a little too close to Taliban kind of justice in my eyes.
Ura mofo, Hassan, and Zakimar:
Ura mofo, I have deleted your comments which are filled with profanity and insults. If you persist in such postings, you will be the first person banned from this site.
Hassan and Zakimar, your comments also crossed the line. This site is now to be used for name calling and attacking religions. Your comments have also be deleted.
Please, I do not have time to constantly monitor the comments and ask for civility on this site. If civil discourse cannot be maintained, I would sooner shut down the site than be a host for such personal and insulting exchanges. Please do me and the others a favor by toning down the rhetoric and stopping the personal attacks.
ura mofo, you and your profanity are a reflection of your beliefs.
PS: Did anybody notice this “version” of the story was in the NEW YORK TIMES, which is 1) not to be trusted and 2) going bankrupt because of 1)….
Nobody READS THE NYT ANYMORE! Leastways anybody that wants to know the truth.
This does seem like an attempt at christian “lawgiving”. What is also interesting is the verses that were chosen. The bible is full of contradictions. This judge chose the “hand em’ high” verses. Other verses, such as Jesus’s admonishing to “turn the other cheek”, “love your enemies” and so forth were not read. So why weren’t those verses read as well? If you aren’t trying to influence a decision in a certain direction the least you would do is read all the passages, both for and against harsh punishment for the guilty. You should really bring in a bible scholar to explain the various authors of parts of the bible and why/what context such contradictory verses were written for.
This is a clear violation of seperation of church and state. I don’t want to live in a christian “lawgiving” state. I guess this judge feels if the bible verse he picks out fits, you must never aquit!
ura mofo: LOL! There are millions of abused poor children with the name MUHAMMED and no way for them to change it if they value their future or lives.
“Convicted murder Kristian Oliver was a bit put out when he learned that jurors relied on simply on the evidence but biblical passages during their deliberations to convict him.”
Did you mean to say “jurors relied NOT simply on the evidence, but biblical…”? Otherwise that first sentence doesn’t make sense. Thank you!
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