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Saturday, February 27, 2010

Religion, Jurors, and Ash Wednesday

For law and religion devotees, here is a story from the ABA Journal, in which a defense attorney objected when a prosecutor returned to a murder trial after lunch on Wednesday (Ash Wednesday) with ash on his forehead.  The judge indicated his agreement with the objection and the prosecutor, finding that the judge's reasons stemmed from an abundance of caution, removed the ashes.  

A similar story is told at the beginning of Stephen Carter's book The Culture of Disbelief, so this isn't a new issue.  I tend to think the judge could have dealt with this issue by addressing the jury directly, and that the prosecutor could have insisted on his right to continue sporting the ashes, although no one seems to have acted outrageously here and the prosecutor was understandably interested in keeping the record clear of potential grounds for reversal.  I am also reminded of a story about the late Senator Strom Thurmond, who, inimitably, told a Senate worker one Ash Wednesday, "You got dirt on your forehead!" 

Posted by Paul Horwitz on February 27, 2010 at 04:22 PM in Paul Horwitz | Permalink


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