Holy Spirit

A federal appeals court ordered a new trial for former Florida Congresswoman Corrine Brown, vacating her convictions for fraud, ethics, and tax offenses. The court ruled the dismissal of a juror, who expressed after the start of deliberations that the Holy Spirit told him Brown was not guilty on all the charges, violated Brown’s Sixth Amendment right to a unanimous jury verdict.

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Death Row

An appeals court in Texas vacated the sentence of the state’s longest-serving death row inmate, Raymond Riles. The jury that convicted Riles for shooting a man to death during a robbery did not receive a “mitigation-focused” instruction but should have because of the mental health evidence presented at trial, including witness testimony that he was often psychotic and had schizophrenia.

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Animal Cruelty

A federal judge vacated a New York man’s convictions for arson and animal abuse after starting porch fires at an ex-girlfriend’s home and dousing her pet rabbit with gasoline, although it was not injured in the fire. The man had a valid challenge to a prospective juror since she was not clear that she could be impartial in the case due to her love of animals.

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Police Sirens

An appeals court in Texas ruled against a man convicted of evading arrest, finding that a siren the jury heard while deliberating is not “other evidence” that would require a new trial. In his defense, the man said he hadn’t heard the cop’s sirens until he was right behind him. A juror told his lawyers after the trial they figured if they could hear a siren from the 15th floor of a building, the defendant could have heard the siren of the police car chasing him.

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Police Shooting

The Ninth Circuit upheld a ruling in favor of a Los Angeles police officer who shot and killed a 14-year-old boy. Although a member of the jury in this excessive force case was in social media groups that closely followed law enforcement activity, and didn’t disclose that fact, such an affiliation “would not have provided a basis for a challenge for cause.”

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