Are There Lessons We All Can Learn From the Boston Marathon Bomber Decision?

From The New Yorker, via the NACDL’s News-of-Interest: Before voir dire started, the lawyers on both sides and the judge debated how potential jurors should be questioned on what they knew and thought of the bombing. The appeal hearing revealed that the defense argued for detailed discussions, but the judge opted to ask one general question of every juror: “Can you set aside your opinion and base your decision solely on the evidence that will be presented to you in court?” It was a poorly constructed question, since it suggested one correct answer. One potential juror, a psychologist, responded, “I don’t know that the brain works that way.” She said that it would be difficult for her to surrender her principled opposition to the death penalty, “because it’s not based on something I’ve heard in the media; it’s based on my personal beliefs. It’s even harder to set aside because it’s one of my lifelong beliefs.” She, too, was disqualified.

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