Monday, January 26, 2015
One of the surprises of my first year of law school was learning that my real but still tentative faith-based opposition to the death penalty might prevent me from serving on a jury in a capital case. The idea of a death-qualified jury clashed with my notion of a jury of one's peers.
I've come to learn that an adherent to current Catholic teaching on the death penalty would not necessarily be excluded from a death-qualified jury. But I remain troubled about the idea of death-qualifying a jury.
In looking into various issues raised by our system's allowance for death-qualification of jurors, I recently came across a helpful list of resources compiled for the 2004-2005 Catholic Lawyer's Program sponsored by the Institute on Religion, Law, and Lawyer's Work at Fordham Law, "Catholics and the Death Penalty: Lawyers, Jurors, and Judges." Materials available online include a Foreword by Amy Uelmen, an essay by Gerald Uelmen, and the transcript of a discussion between two Catholic lawyers with prosecution and defense experience in capital cases. I recommend the essay by Gerald Uelmen in particular.