Members of the jury ...
A couple of years ago I had two weeks off work because I was called up for jury service. A cushy number? Not really. Going to Snaresbrook crown court every morning to hear about a large-scale cocaine smuggling case was – interesting, yes, but also majorly stressful.
Were we the jury going to get this case right? You sit tensely listening to – complicated – presentations of the evidence. Then there are the – often confusing – accounts from witnesses (including, in my case, notably unclear stuff from the police on several occasions!). And then … decision time.
Locked in a room for hours (two days in our case). Is it “guilty” or “not guilty”?
The crucial thing is: within the confines of the jury room you’re supposed to only consider the evidence you’ve heard in the court. For example, I wasn’t even allowed to take in my own notes that I’d been making as I listened to the trial!
Which is why it’s so deeply troubling to hear about the case of the man in Texas who's been sentenced to death after a majority of the members of the jury sitting on his capital trial consulted the Bible to help in their deliberations.
See the full story here, here and here. Also, there will be a new Guardian Comment is Free post from the Amnesty director Kate Allen going up this afternoon. Look out for that and please add your comment.
Amnesty is going to campaign hard for this execution – set for 5 November – to be commuted. Whether you are a Christian, a believer of another kind or a non-believer, please join us in opposing this execution.
Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.