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39 Ohio N.U. L. Rev. 579 (2012-2013)
Bibles in the Jury Room: Psychological Theories Question Judicial Assumptions

handle is hein.journals/onulr39 and id is 597 raw text is: Bibles in the Jury Room: Psychological Theories Question
Judicial Assumptions
When jurors go into a jury room to determine a verdict or sentence, they
are expected to use only the facts and the law presented to them.'
Occasionally, however, jurors refer to other sources, such as the Bible, to
assist them in making this decision; for example, jurors might use Biblical
passages such as an eye for an eye2 or judge not, that ye be not judged3
in order to help them make sentencing decisions during death penalty cases.
These phrases allow the juror to feel less responsible for the outcome (e.g.,
death penalty). Judges must decide whether the jurors' reliance on this
extra-legal material-biblical phrases-violates the defendant's rights.'
Some scholars and courts have determined that the use of the Bible during
deliberations is harmless.5 In contrast, some scholars and courts have
determined that sentences that are influenced by the Bible potentially
violate the defendant's rights under the First, Sixth, and/or Eighth
Amendments.6        Still others  have   determined    that the    Bible  is  an
impermissible outside source and should not be consulted at all during
The first purpose of this Article is to summarize the appellate cases in
which courts have considered whether the jury's use of the Bible is
* Associate Professor, Department of Criminal Justice and Interdisciplinary Ph.D. Program in
Social Psychology, University of Nevada, Reno; B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. Psychology, University of
Nebraska-Lincoln; J.D., University of Nebraska College of Law.
** Honors Student, University of Nevada, Reno; B.A. Criminal Justice (Pre-law track) and
Political Science (expected 2013).
*** Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Nebraska-Lincoln; Associate Director,
Law-Psychology Program; B.A. Psychology, Duke University; M.A. and Ph.D. Psychology, University
of Pennsylvania; Master of Legal Studies, University of Nebraska College of Law.
**** B.A. Criminal Justice, University of Nevada, Reno.
1. Smith v. Phillips, 455 U.S. 209, 217 (1982); United States v. Howard, 506 F.2d 865, 866 (5th
Cir. 1975) (citing Patterson v. Colorado, 205 U.S. 454,462 (1907)).
2. Exodus 21:24 (God's Word).
3. Matthew 7:1 (King James).
4. See infra Part II.
5. See infra Part 1l.
6. See infra Part I.
7. See infra Part ll.


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