A juror has written a brief essay about his experience on the Paul Storey death penalty trial, which occurred in Texas in 2008. In the essay, the juror, who now regrets his decision to vote in favor of death, discusses jury dynamics and the process by which jurors reach a verdict. Among the many interesting insights put forward by the juror is a recommendation to require the jury to "deliberate for some minimum time" before issuing a verdict. It appears that the juror believes that this minimum time requirement will improve the decision making process. According to this particular juror, it only took 1-2 hours to sentence Paul Storey to death.
How many jurors does it take to determine whether or not the defendant should be put to death? For many years in Florida, the answer to that question was seven. However, there are two legislative proposals one in the Florida House and the other in Florida Senate to raise that number to 10 and 12 respectively. While it looks like the House will prevail, there are some who believe that Florida should require juror unanimity before putting someone to death. Unanimity is the standard followed by most states that still permit the death penalty. To read an op-ed in support of unanimity go here.
Sticking with the the theme from yesterday, here is another audio or podcast discussing how Alabama law allows judges to override jury decision making in capital cases. This practice may eventually go the way of the dodo bird in light of the Supreme Court's recent ruling in Hurst v. Florida.
A juror hearing the death penalty case of James Holmes came to court wearing a Mettalica t-shirt that depicted a person in an electric chair. When questioned by the judge about the t-shirt the alternate juror said he wore it because he did not think that he would actually be in the courtroom that day. The juror also said that he was not trying to send a message with the t-shirt but instead wore it because he liked Mettalica.
SCT Grants Cert. in Another Batson Case: Foster v. Humphrey
The issue in Foster v. Humphrey, a death penalty case involving a Black defendant, a White victim and an all-White jury is whether the Georgia courts erred in failing to recognize race discrimination under Batson v. Kentucky in the extraordinary circumstances of this death penalty case. The case will be argued in the fall.
The facts here seem to favor Foster; however, one can never be sure with these cases.
--Prosecutors highlighted the name of each prospective Black juror in green (see above)
--Black jurors referenced as "B#1," "B#2," and "B#3"
--Prosecutor's investigator ranked each Black juror against the other Black jurors
--All Black jurors were struck by the prosecution
--Prosecutor at the close of trial requested a death verdict from the jury to “deter other people out there in the projects."