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COLORADO, USA. STATE HIGH COURT BLOCKS EXECUTION BECAUSE JURORS CONSULTED BIBLE

March 28, 2005: a US state supreme court has quashed a death sentence handed down to Robert Harlan because jurors consulted the Bible in reaching their verdict. The Colorado Supreme Court on March 28 ruled that the Bible, which includes the premise of "eye for an eye" justice, constituted an improper outside influence and a reliance on what the judges called a "higher authority."
The decision comes amid raging debates in deeply Christian and increasingly conservative America about the role of religion in the justice system in such issues as euthanasia, abortion and capital punishment.
"The judicial system works very hard to emphasize the rarefied, solemn and sequestered nature of jury deliberations," the judges said in a three-to-two decision. "Jurors must deliberate in that atmosphere without the aid or distraction of extraneous texts," they added.
The decision reversed the death penalty imposed on Harlan, found guilty in 1995 of raping and murdering a cocktail waitress near the city of Denver.
After delivering a guilty verdict, the jury retired to consider whether to sentence Harlan to death, with the trial judge telling them each to make an "individual moral assessment," in deciding Harlan's fate.
The panel of 12 voted unanimously to condemn him to death and later admitted during an appeal hearing that they had consulted the Bible in making their decision. One panellist said she studied Romans and Leviticus, including Leviticus 24, which includes the famous articulation of Old Testament justice: "eye for eye, tooth for tooth."
Under the March 28 decision, Harlan's sentence was reduced to life in jail without parole.
He was convicted of kidnapping and raping waitress Rhonda Maloney. She then escaped and hailed down a passing car, but Harlan caught up with her, shot the driver, leaving her paralysed, and then beat and killed Maloney. (Sources: Afp, 29/03/2005)

UN. CONCERN OVER HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS IN IVORY COAST
CHINA. TOP GUANGZHOU HOSPITAL DOES ROARING TRADE IN EXECUTED PRISONER ORGANS, EDITORIAL
IRAQ: SADDAM TO GET DEATH SENTENCE, JUDGE
EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT. CHINA AND UNITED STATES URGED TO ABOLISH DEATH PENALTY
MALAYSIA. HANGMEN IN LINE FOR A 75% PAY RISE
LIBYA. BULGARIAN NURSES' LAWYER VOWS TO HAVE DEATH SENTENCES OVERTURNED
TERRI SCHIAVO. THE VATICAN IS FUNDAMENTALIST ON EVERYTHING BUT THE DEATH PENALTY
CHINA. DEATH PENALTY DEBATE 10 YEARS TOO LATE FOR NIE SHUBIN, EDITORIAL
INDONESIA. GOVERNMENT URGED TO EXECUTE CONVICTED DRUG TRAFFICEKRS ON DEATH-ROW SOON
USA. GOVERNMENT URGES JUDGE TO SET DATE FOR MOUSSAOUI TRIAL
USA. CATHOLIC BISHOPS CAMPAIGN AGAINST DEATH PENALTY
SAUDI ARABIA. MAN BEHEADED FOR MURDER, SORCERY
MALAYSIA. COURT AFFIRMS DEATH PENALTY FOR MAN CONVICTED OF MURDERING BANGLADESHI
INDONESIA. WOMAN EXECUTED FOR TRIPLE MURDERS
MEXICO. SENATE VOTES TO ABOLISH DEATH PENALTY
AFGHANISTAN. 4 SENTENCED TO DEATH IN ATTACKS ON FOREIGNERS
IRAN. MAN CONVICTED OF KILLING CHILDREN WHIPPED THEN EXECUTED IN PUBLIC
CHINA CANNOT ABOLISH THE DEATH PENALTY: WEN
SAUDI ARABIA. FOUR FILIPINOS BEHEADED FOR MURDERING COMPATRIOT
IRAN. TWO MEN HANGED PUBLICLY FOR RAPE AND ARMED ROBBERY
ITALY. CALDEROLI’S STATEMENT ON UNABOMBER DANGEROUS, D’ELIA
SAUDI ARABIA. TWO GAY LOVERS EXECUTED FOR MURDER OF PAKISTANI
INDIA. 'INDIA CARRIED OUT 1,422 EXECUTIONS IN A DECADE', RIGHTS GROUP
PAKISTAN. TOP ISLAMIC COURT THROWS OUT GANGRAPE ACQUITTAL
UNITED KINGDOM. SCOT ON DEATH ROW IN NIGERIA HAS MURDER CONVICTION QUASHED
SOUTH AFRICA. CONSTITUTIONAL COURT TO DECIDE ON DEATH ROW PRISONERS
IRAN. CONVICTED MURDERER HANGED, ROBBERS LASHED
IRAN. JUDICIARY ENDS PROCEEDINGS AGAINST AGHAJARI
CHINA. CHIEF JUSTICE PLEDGES TO IMPROVE DEATH PENALTY REVIEW PROCESS
CHINA ARRESTS 800,000 FOR 'ENDANGERING STATE SECURITY'

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