Law Religion Culture Review

Exploring the intersections of law, religion and culture. Copyright by Richard J. Radcliffe. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Using Scripture in Trial, Part II.

Although I wasn't consulted, I would have signed on the majority's opinion on the question whether the biblical references constituted prosecutorial misconduct. It didn't.

Nowhere did the prosecutor state that the Bible commanded these jurors to take a particular action. That directive would have crossed the line.

However, he might have been guilty of a "criminal" misinterpretation or misapplication of this biblical text. Justice Moreno put his finger on it calling it a "confusing, comparison between defendant and the Horsemen". This error actually militates in favor of the argument that it was more of a loose illustration than an appeal to a higher authority.

Justice Moreno's following passages invite comment: "To pretend otherwise would be to ignore the reality that, to many people, the Bible is not just a literary work but a holy text." Similarly, he stated: "jurors...may believe the Bible to be divinely inspired." These related assertions are rather insulting to those who do regard the Bible as "a holy text" or "divinely inspired". Even if the listeners do esteem it as "holy" or "inspired", this view does not lead inexorably to an automaton-like response when anyone invokes or references it in an argument. Justice Moreno never explains or states his basis for this purportedly automatic causal connection.