Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law

OSJCL Amici Board of Advisors

OSJCL Amici: Views from the Field

Supreme Court Won't Hear Appeal over Bible Reading In Jury Room

A Texas death-row inmate has lost his bid for a new sentencing hearing after complaining that the jury foreman at his capital murder trial read a Bible passage aloud to the entire jury before the panel returned his death sentence. During an initial penalty phase vote, 10 of the 12 juror voted for death. At that point, the jury foreman produced his personal Bible and read a passage aloud from Romans 13: 1- 6. The jury continued to deliberate for several hours. When a new vote was taken, the panel decided 12 to 0 in favor of death. Several circuit courts have ruled that the introduction of a Bible into jury deliberations violates a defendant's rights, but the Court declined to take the case and resolve the split.



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