I will never serve on a capital murder case. I've been in a jury pool for several capital murder trials over the years. Each time, I am excused. I know the reason. When asked if I can vote for the use of the Death Penalty, I answer "no". I was once asked by a judge why I hold this position. I could tell he expected a religious response because three other people had used the bible as an out before me. I said "I do not believe the state should have the right to execute people". The judge knew my position was political, that I would not change my mind, and that there was no way I could be a fair participant on the jury. I was dismissed.
I could have told a lie. I could have used my opportunity to push my political agenda. I would have been picked for the jury if I had lied. I am always picked (14 times now). However, I have this honest streak in me that I cannot ignore. I try to tell the truth. Others do not.
When I say "others do not" I mean fundamentalist Christians. Of course, Some Christians tell the truth, some do not. Take the lone juror who voted against the death penalty in the trial of Juan Luna, recently convicted for the Brown's Chicken Massacre. The Juror was a fundie who told a small lie when asked if she could vote for the death penalty.
She was "sincere" in saying, during jury selection, that she would be willing to vote in favor of a death sentence for Luna, convicted of killing seven people at the Palatine restaurant in 1993, he said.
How can we tell this is a lie? If you cannot vote to kill a man who senselessly murdered seven people, then you can never reasonably be expected to vote for the death penalty. It really is this simple, a reasonable person would have voted for the death penalty. Her standard was of the off "reasonable" scale.
Seven people were butchered in a suburban Chicago restaurant in the 90's. The case is known as the Brown's Chicken Massacre. The perpetrators have only recently come to trial. The lone fundie juror held out for life without parole. Her reason - she did not want to be part of a lynch mob.
The lone Juror is the daughter-in-law of Nahum Rosario, pastor of the Maranatha World Revival Church. Her religious beliefs played a central role in her decision to vote against the death penalty. Who was hurt by her small lie? The families of the victims.
Diane Clayton waited 14 years to see the man who murdered her son Marcus sentenced to death. But convicted killer Juan Luna was sentenced Thursday to life in prison without parole.
"My son deserved better than this," Clayton said after the sentencing.
Personally, I am pleased with the outcome. The state should not have the right to execute people. Yet this victory against the state was purchase with a lie. On my simple cosmic justice scale - this decision does not balance. I do not know why people tell this kind of lie - it is dishonest and wrong. Yet it happens all the time.
Here is another example from my personal experience:
I sat on a jury in multiple count child rape case a few years ago. A stepfather had repeatedly rapped his step-daughter while she was between the ages of 11 and 14. The evidence was overwhelming. The case made the jury sick in its detail. When the case went to the jury, I was selected foreman. Our first vote was 11-1 in favor of conviction on all counts. The one holdout was a fundamentalist Christian who's first words to the jury were - "Jesus said he who is without guilt should cast the first stone" - after the collective groan, the next 20 minutes was spent listening to her witness to the other jurors. She had lied to the judge, and was now using her time in power to push her incomprehensible agenda. At one point she actually said "we should find not guilty because his daughter had forgiven him."
I did my job as foreman. My note to the judge was direct. He cited her for contempt, $250 dollars and a night in jail was her punishment. The alternate juror quickly voted in favor of conviction - the perp was eventually sentenced to over 100 years in jail, just like Juan Luna.