Monday, May 21, 2007

small lies

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.

9 comments:

C. L. Hanson said...

I think in some circumstances one is justified in lying to save someone's life. However, if I were selected for a jury and I were asked if I could vote for the use of the death penalty, I would say no and give the same reason you gave. Perhaps that means my position is inconsistent, or at least blurry...?

I was just talking about Christians and the death penalty over on my blog as well, and trying to fathom how any of them can justify supporting it.

Brian said...

I'm not shocked to hear about fundamentalists lying, but I was surprised that any were against the death penalty or punishment in general. Most fundies are serious law and order types.

I always think it's weird that they claim to be "pro-life" yet tend to be the biggest war supporters and in favour of the death penalty.

Johnny Crow said...

Damn man, we think a lot alike. I couldn't vote for the death penalty. To me, the state shouldn't have a right to send someone to death. Also, I would rather them live with guilt and punishment that a quick death.

On the other hand, I was wondering if you would kill if it was to save your own life or of another? I know it is a weird question, but I never said I wasn't weird.

Mojoey said...

Johnny - Kill in self defense? As in, to protect my life or my family? yes - without hesitation or doubt.

OptimusOwl said...

I've never understood the question, "Do you believe in the death penalty?".

It gets into a whole area of mindless laws. "who do you want to kill?" is my only response.

Perhaps some people deserve to die. That sentence should be decided by the jury: a jury of peers. They should have the understanding that if they choose that sentence, one of them, or the victim or personal representative of the victim is then responsible for carrying out the execution.

Johnny Crow said...

Thanks for answering me. It is the same for me. I know that some people don't want any killing, but that is why I ask the question of self defense to gauge the type of person you are. Like I said, I would have answered it the same way, no hesitation, no doubt.

Krystalline Apostate said...

I think it's a matter of degrees.
There's a gulf between the killer who shoots someone on discovery of cuckoldry, as opposed to say, RTK serial killer.
One's in the throes of a momentary passion, the other in a lifelong 1.

Anonymous said...

this wasnt a lie...i know that woman because i currently attend pastor Nahums Church and you writting this online is just very low..

Steve_Tharck said...

I was one of the jurors on the Brown's Chicken Case. Whatever Liza's motives when asked if she was for the Death Penalty I don't believe she lied. I think she could be for it, under the right circumstances, she was just keeping in mind that boy has a right to see his father. I don't agree with her, but I respect her decision.