Juror's concern that man on trial didn't swear on the bible results in the verdict getting tossed

On Friday, an appeals court judge in Camden County, New Jersey tossed out a verdict against Dr. Abbas Husain who in 2011 a jury found guilty of having sexually harassed an office employee. It came out later that one of the jurors was "very passionate" and concerned that Husain, who is Hindu, hadn't put his hand on the bible when taking the oath to testify. The juror had raised her concern with other jurors. From NJ.com:

“The juror's comment regarding the Bible raises the specter of religious bigotry,” the court’s ruling said.

The decision reversed a Camden County Superior Court judge’s denial of a new trial for Husain in 2016. A jury in 2011 found Husain created a hostile work environment, sexually harassed and retaliated against a then-part time office employee, who was awarded $12,500 in the civil case...

“The Law Division judge said the juror who made the observation was only concerned with Husain's credibility, i.e. that a person who refused to place his hand on the Bible was incapable of taking the oath seriously and was therefore incredible,” the decision said. “He contrasted this with out-and-out religious bigotry. But if he was correct, that too is simply impermissible. The exercise of a person's religion should not make him or her per se incredible.”

“Only a new trial would ensure that the outcome was untainted,” the decision continued. “The possibility that the verdict was a miscarriage of justice is too great for us to decide otherwise.”

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Man who yelled "guilty!" to get out of jury duty was promptly arrested

I guess it's kind of like yelling fire in a crowded theater: Jacob Maldonado of Honolulu, Hawaii had been called as a possible juror in a misdemeanor assault trial but really didn't want to serve on the jury. So just before the selection process began, Maldonado yelled “He is guilty! He is guilty!” outside the courtroom. From TheGardenIsland.com:

(Judge Edward) Kubo declared a mistrial, finding the man’s disturbance had affected the 44 other potential jurors, according to the judge’s order.

The judge ordered Maldonado’s arrest on a contempt charge and set a $10,000 cash bail. Maldonado spent the night in jail and appeared before Kubo on Wednesday morning...

(Attorney Jason) Burks told the judge that Maldonado’s father was recently diagnosed with cancer and his wife was also dealing with medical issues...

Maldonado was released without being charged or fined.

image: "An empty jury box at an American courtroom in Pershing County, Nevada" by Ken Lund Read the rest

God told judge to tell jury that defendant should not be convicted, so he did

In New Braunfels, Texas, State District Judge Jack Robison walked into the jury room, twice, during deliberation in a teen sex trafficking case and told the jurors that the defendant shouldn't be convicted. Why? Because God told him to.

"He said he had thought it over and prayed on it and that God told him that he had to say this," said Mark A. House, jury foreman in the weeklong trial of Gloria Romero Perez that concluded Jan. 12.

Robison, a veteran jurist who presides in the 207th district that covers Comal and Hays counties, quickly informed the state and defense counsel of his conduct and recused himself from the punishment phase of the trial.

"It's probably the most unusual thing I've experienced in 20 years as an attorney," said Sylvia A. Cavazos, who represented Perez. "Judge Robison apologized in open court to the jury, saying something to the effect that 'I apologize but, if God tells me to do something, I have to do it...'"

Cavazos contends Perez should receive a new trial because of Robison's actions, but she noted, "The DA's position was (no retrial should occur because) he encouraged them to find her not guilty, and the jury had already reached their verdict, and he didn't change their minds."

House has filed a complaint against Robison with the state judicial authorities.

"Judge facing complaints over trying to sway jury" (San Antonio Express-News) Read the rest