There is an interesting case out of Oklahoma where the murder conviction of Kassie Lakei Bills was overturned due to the comments at trial by Judge Ray Elliott of Oklahoma County. Elliott told the jurors to reach a quick verdict and not be “hardheads” by keeping everyone at the court. I guess that is why they call folks in Oklahoma “Sooners.”
In his charge to the jurors, Elliott told them “[i]f one of your fellow jurors starts to stray off, gets far outside of this narrowly defined responsibility, the other 11 of you have got to go, ‘Wait a minute, let’s go, we don’t want to be up here all day, all week, all month, all year.’ Let’s get the case decided, so don’t be one of those hardheads, so to speak.”
The appeals court found Elliott’s comments to be “a misstatement of the law that was an inherently coercive intrusion into the jury’s deliberative process.”
This is not the first controversy for Elliott who was previously asked to step down in a criminal trial after allegedly using an offensive term to describe illegal immigrants. He refused and was supported in that decision by another judge.