Juror thinking about Jesus
How much can a juror in a trial trust to faith?

If you’re serving as a juror on a court case, can you simply ignore the evidence and trust that God will steer you in the right direction? One juror in Florida was kicked off the jury bench for saying that God told them the defendant is not guilty, despite evidence to the contrary.

The incident raises some big questions, such as what is God’s proper role – if any – in a court of law?

Broken Promises

First, a bit of background info.

The case being decided was a big one: Former U.S. Rep Corrine Brown was on trial for setting up a sham charity and keeping the cash sent in from wealthy donors.

The charity, One Door for Education, was purportedly helping Florida’s neediest children get a good education. In reality, it was a slush fund for Rep. Brown to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars, and only gifted a single $1,000 scholarship to one student. She was eventually busted and charged with fraud. 

A politician being put on trial is always going to make headlines. But here's where things got even more interesting.

God Says Not Guilty

A jury member wrote a note to the judge, claiming that a fellow juror (known as Juror #13) was relying on the Holy Spirit to make a judgment in the case, instead of looking to the facts.

“With all due respect, I’m a little concerned about a statement made by Juror #13 when we began deliberation,” the note began. It went on to quote Juror #13 as saying “a Higher Being told me Corrine Brown was Not Guilty of all charges” and that he “trusted the Holy Ghost." 

The judge called lawyers from both sides to discuss what to do with Juror 13.

Brown’s lawyer argued that Juror #13 trusting God’s word was similar to how Christians might weigh other big decisions in their life. Christians, after all, look to God for guidance on other big decisions in their lives. Why not this?

The argument from the prosecution was that Juror #13 can talk with God all they want, but if that’s the only evidence they use in their judgment, then that disqualifies them from serving on an impartial jury. 

The judge agreed, and Juror #13 was dismissed, and Corinne Brown was sentenced to five years in prison.

Should Jesus Be on the Jury?

Rep. Brown’s lawyers are now appealing the decision, saying Juror #13 should’ve never been dismissed. And while it’s unclear how that appeal will shake out, Judge Timothy Corrigan was very clear in his initial dismissal.

“I want to be very clear that I am drawing a distinction between someone who’s on a jury who is religious and who is praying for guidance or seeking inspiration, or whatever mode that person uses to try to come to a proper decision, from this situation, where the juror is actually saying that an outside force, that is, a higher being, a Holy Spirit, told him that Ms. Brown was not guilty on those charges. And I think that’s just an expression that’s a bridge too far, consistent with jury service as we know it.”

What do you think? Juries are supposed to be impartial and listen to the evidence, but should that completely exclude communing with one’s creator?

Religious people of all faiths trust in God when making high stakes decisions all the time, and even the prosecution in this case agreed that getting some heavenly guidance is acceptable – but only to a certain extent.  

Where’s the line?

48 comments

  1. Katelynne Shouse's Avatar Katelynne Shouse

    The Judge was correct in kicking #13 to the curb.....facts are facts, everything else is subjective!

  1. Dave J's Avatar Dave J

    I agree with Katelynne Shouse. In our courts, as opposed to our politicians, facts are facts. Verifiable and corroborated. The religion of the juror should have no bearing on the outcome.

  1. Minister Mike's Avatar Minister Mike

    The culprit probably is not guilty in the eyes of god, and god could very well have told lucky #13 the culprit was not guilty in its eyes. However, the trial is not being held at the Pearly Gates, and the laws broken are not god's laws - they are the laws of the United States of America (Cesar, if you like).

    Seems pretty cut and dried, to me - render unto Cesar that which is is Cesar's.

    1. Catherine Ohrin-Greipp's Avatar Catherine Ohrin-Greipp

      God has eyes? Come on, god is a delusion, there are no pearly gates except in some people's mind. The only laws which exist beyond our planet are cosmic laws of physics as we know them. People have been brainwashed into believeing there is some guy in the sky who talks to them on some special cel phone. Crazy.

  1. Lionheart's Avatar Lionheart

    I know of a person on a jury that believed the individual being tried was innocent because the Holy Spirit had told her he was innocent, this was before the trial began. She was removed from the jury and the individual being tried was found guilty after all the evidence had been presented. Such is the gullibility of those that rely on faith over facts, but that’s religion in a nutshell.

    🦁❤️

  1. Carl Bernard Elfstrom's Avatar Carl Bernard Elfstrom

    Your god and religion don't have a place in a court of law. If he tells you otherwise it's time to get a new god. And there are plenty to choose from. Not doing our duty as impartial jurots in totally unpatriotic, and anti-American. And in some cases hearing GOD could be a sign of mental illness. You better get it checked out with a psychiatrist, just to be on the safe side.

  1. Clay Serenbetz's Avatar Clay Serenbetz

    We saw what happened when science was ignored with coronavirus. God gave us minds, science and doctors; I believe that he expects us to use them, not ignore them. Yes, they are fallible, but it's the most reliable knowledge. Relying on ancient laws from thousands of years ago ignores all the knowledge that mankind has gained with God's help. Jurors must impartially listen to the evidence presented and use the facts presented to reach a conclusion. All jurors bring their unique prejudices and biases to their interpretation of the evidence. Jurors have prayed for God's helping reaching verdicts at least since the English Common Law was adopted in 1066. Jurors are fallible, too. Just look at all those sentenced to death only to later receive exoneration (e.g. Central Park Five). The system is imperfect and often corrupt, but it's the best one that I know that ever existed. Certainly better than Russia or China.

  1. Alexander Clarke's Avatar Alexander Clarke

    Blind adherence to a religion is for weak fools and gives evil people the excuse to do bad things.

    1. Daniel Gray's Avatar Daniel Gray

      so whats your excuse to the blind adherence to ignorance?

      1. Ilmenheru Terikson's Avatar Ilmenheru Terikson

        Psst DG you are the one who frequently espouses ignorance about simple concepts like secular and insular on a secular ministry sites forums. So uhm yeah good job as always making yourself look like a mentally ill person by trolling away. Go seek therapy as you are in dire need of it.

        1. Daniel Gray's Avatar Daniel Gray

          No Turkey, that wold be you as anyone can see by reading your posts.

  1. Stanley Alan Marchand's Avatar Stanley Alan Marchand

    So John Smith walks out in front of 30,000 people at a football game cameras rolling he pulls a gun from his pocket and kills someone he go's to court all the Evidence comes out complete with film footage juror #13 says nope a higher being told me he's not guilty one of the main problems with the world today is that this is even a question! Minister Stanislav.

  1. Carl Bernard Elfstrom's Avatar Carl Bernard Elfstrom

    It's especially bad when jurors wink and throw kisses at defendants.

  1. Richard James Clay's Avatar Richard James Clay

    It is right and proper for the juror to be removed. He is letting his 'beliefs' interfere with reality, and the facts of life. He is not in the present. I would question this person's ability to successfully engage in life at all without extreme difficulty. This goes to questioning this individual's ability to cast an intelligent vote, as well.

  1. Wayward73's Avatar Wayward73

    Well that's one way to get out of Jury Duty.

    1. Michael Paul Gadoua's Avatar Michael Paul Gadoua

      Could have been intentional.

  1. AetherAgent's Avatar AetherAgent

    I've been called to jury duty many times over the past 50 years but as soon as I tell the judge -- during the initial interview -- that I give the One Law precedence over man's written laws and that I trust to my heart when evidence and testimony fail to satisfy, I'm excused. I've never been selected for a panel.

    Actually, the judge can't excuse a juror on those grounds alone because that's not permitted in the rules, either as an excuse from a prospective juror or as justification from the judge. What usually happens is that the defending and prosecuting counselors approach the bench together and speak to the judge, who then excuses me.

    What just happened? Well, even though the judge admonishes jurors to be impartial, each attorney would rather you be very partial on their respective behalf. To that end, each attorney has a certain number of jurors that they can reject without providing a reason. But when someone like me comes along, both are in agreement that I would not serve their need. So they act in concert to request my dismissal.

    The attorneys don't waste any of their "freebies" and the judge doesn't break any rules since he/she is following the request of the attorneys.

    The winner of a case is not the one who is right but the one who can best cite the proper law out of the thousands that apply. It's all an attempt to manipulate those "impartial" jurors. The defense is not interested in justice; they only want acquittal. The prosecution does not care about justice; they seek a guilty verdict (or proper payment). And the judge does not serve justice; s/he serves the written law, even when they know that a law is wrong or inadequate. They must do so because there's a law that requires them to do so.

    The Truth is the real victim in these childish games. A legal system that feels that the law is the law and that there is no room for intuition or common sense, and that the heart must defer to cold reason is a broken system.

    NOTE: I am not a Christian. I do not subscribe to any religion.

    1. Douglas Robert Spindler's Avatar Douglas Robert Spindler

      Could it be the reason you are not selected for jury duty is because you are a liar? You imply to the courts you are a Christian and then tell us you are not.

  1. Douglas Robert Spindler's Avatar Douglas Robert Spindler

    At least this juror was honest. I know of jurors who have claimed they acquitted or convicted on skin color. I know of another juror who voted to convict because she wanted to get home to prepare dinner. She commented she believed at the time the guy was not guilty and still believes the guy is not guilty.

    We decided to have a hurry of our peers decide our guilt or innocence. That’s what we got.

  1. Carl Bernard Elfstrom's Avatar Carl Bernard Elfstrom

    I'm glad you like your new nickname, Stanley. If anyone else wants a new nickname, please let me know.

  1. Daniel Gray's Avatar Daniel Gray

    And the idiot judge just gave the person a right to appeal whatever decision comes down. The 1st Amendment clearly states that you CANT make a law that violates a person religion. Therefor in doing this the judge was saying he didnt give a damn what the Constitution said. Any attorney fresh out of law school can have this decision thrown out in a NY second. Dont care if you like how the Constitution is written or not, it is still the supreme law of the land and every judge attorney and public official swears to uphold it and follow it.

    Someone screwed up big time.

    1. SueW's Avatar SueW

      That’s a really screwed up interpretation of the Constitution. What it actually says is that Congress may make no law requiring a national religion, such as was done with the Church of England.

      There’s nothing in the Constitution that is counter to the judge’s decision.

      If a juror is incapable of reaching a fair and impartial decision based on the evidence, then they shouldn’t be on a jury, as that’s literally the job.

      1. Daniel Gray's Avatar Daniel Gray

        Nope thats what is written in the Constitution, so I guess that you are going to claim the Little Sisters of the Poor decision was wrong or the bakers decision was wrong because it does not fit your beliefs?

    2. Tom's Avatar Tom

      What law is being made here that is violating this person's religion? How does removing someone from a jury prevent them from exercising their religious beliefs? They can still believe whatever they would like but juries are supposed to be impartial and base their decision on the evidence presented to them and the arguments made by the lawyers. If you aren't going to do so you shouldn't be on a jury.

      1. John P Maher's Avatar John P Maher

        HEY TOM CALL GOD on THAT TREE PHONE in the PARK, HE WILL TELL WHATS RIGHT and WRONG, SURELY TOM !

      2. Daniel Gray's Avatar Daniel Gray

        throwing a person out of the jury because he believes in a deity? c'mon even you cant be that stupid and not see this violates his 1st Amendment rights.

        1. Ronaldo's Avatar Ronaldo

          The juror was not thrown out because he believed in a deity. He was dismissed from the jury because he effectively stated he was going to ignore the facts of the case. Many jurors believe in deities, but most of them do not fail in their tasks because of that belief.

          1. Daniel Gray's Avatar Daniel Gray

            read read the story and try that myth yet again

            1. Fredrick B Neidhardt's Avatar Fredrick B Neidhardt

              Clearly you have reading comprehension issues, Daniel. The judge removed them for believing "that an outside force, that is, a higher being, a Holy Spirit, told him that Ms. Brown was not guilty on those charges. And I think that’s just an expression that’s a bridge too far, consistent with jury service as we know it.”

              The juror was going to rely on their own belief and not the facts of the case. If you go in with a preconceived notion that someone is guilty or innocent, regardless of what the facts state, you are not being impartial, and not fit as a juror

    3. Catherine Ohrin-Greipp's Avatar Catherine Ohrin-Greipp

      This issue is not about religion. It is about a juror who is hallucinating and imagining someone/something is talking to her. It is all in her head. She needs treatment to end her delusional thinking. NO violation of her "religion." She is mentally ill.

      1. Carl Bernard Elfstrom's Avatar Carl Bernard Elfstrom

        It could just be that she needed an excuse for having the hots for the defendant.

      2. Daniel Gray's Avatar Daniel Gray

        seems the 1st Amendment does not agree with you child.

      3. ULC Rev Paul's Avatar ULC Rev Paul

        Thanks for the diagnosis Dr. Phil

    4. Ilmenheru Terikson's Avatar Ilmenheru Terikson

      Oh DG you still like to spout nonsense while acting like you have some modicum of a grasp on how the law works. You are clearly no scholar of the constitution nor of law. This would be juror was removed because they violated one of the most certain rules in the court room. Facts over feelings, always. There is nothing factual in faith, if it was fact it could literally not be faith after all.

      Being compelled by a god is no more a defense then being compelled by a god to render a verdict a valid way to judge if one has committed a crime.

      1. Daniel Gray's Avatar Daniel Gray

        Oh poor Turkey, you just cant help but shove your foot in your mouth now can you.

        1st Amendment Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

        So now according to you just because someone believes in a deity they cant serve on a jury

        https://www.aclu.org/issues/religious-liberty/using-religion-discriminate/end-use-religion-discriminate https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2017/10/26/2017-23269/federal-law-protections-for-religious-liberty https://law.justia.com/constitution/us/amendment-01/03-free-exercise-of-religion.html

        and these are 3 of over 392,000,000 sites according to google that are calling you a liar.

        Must be magic to live in that delusion you call reality

        1. Ilmenheru Terikson's Avatar Ilmenheru Terikson

          Hey DG are you a secular minister in good standing here? Nope so as always nothing you say here has any meaning to actual ministers of the ULC. so go drink some bleach like your orange idol wants and do one act to make the world slightly better for all by chugging long and hard.

        2. Tom's Avatar Tom

          They didn't remove them for believing in a deity. They were removed for believing God over evidence. That doesn't prevent them from practicing their religion or violate the first amendment.

          1. Daniel Gray's Avatar Daniel Gray

            seems you didnt read the story did you?

  1. Tom's Avatar Tom

    Comment removed by user.

  1. Robert Duff's Avatar Robert Duff

    Should Jesus Be on the Jury?

    To be legally qualified for jury service, an individual must: 1. be a United States citizen; - Jesus is not a US citizen. 2. be at least 18 years of age; + Jesus is about 2000 years old 3. reside primarily in the judicial district for one year; - Jesus does not have a primary residence in the US. 4. be adequately proficient in English to satisfactorily complete the juror qualification form; - Jesus never learned English, only Aramaic 5. have no disqualifying mental or physical condition; + Jesus was never diagnosed with a mental or physical condition 6. not currently be subject to felony charges punishable by imprisonment for more than one year; + Jesus is not subject to felony charges. 7. never have been convicted of a felony (unless civil rights have been legally restored) - Jesus was convicted and sentenced to death by torture on the cross.

  1. Amber Fry's Avatar Amber Fry

    Absolutely not. To be judged by peers is the entire point of a trial. That means other people, not spirits, not gods, people. It means leaving religion outside of the doors and examining and comparing proof, using logic and then deciding if it adds up to guilt or innocence. I'm all for religious belief and living by that, but if a person cannot realize there is a place and a time to lean on it (and the court or the workplace isn't it) then they needed to be removed. Live it in the personal life but leave it alone when it comes to matters of society and workspace or fine a pocket of both that revolves around that faith.

  1. ULC Rev Paul's Avatar ULC Rev Paul

    Remember all the hub-bub about the 10 Commandments outside or inside a court room? The irony is of those 10 only two are relevant to the criminal court system, V & VII with VIII being a close third in the cases of judicial perjury. The U.S. likes to talk a good God game but let's face it there is just as much freedom FROM religion being practiced in America today than OF.

    As far as this case is concerned even Solomon, who asked God for wisdom not verdicts, would probably have kicked out this juror.

  1. Allen Haas's Avatar Allen Haas

    The legal issue is not as clear cut as supposed. The right to free speech and the free exercise of religion embodied in the 1st amendment is not supported above all other rights embodied in the Constitution. Simply stating that you have a religious conviction doesn't mean that if God tells you you can enter someone's home and rob them, rape someone or as in the case of polygamy marry multiple spouses. Marriage has a binding legal component under contract and criminal law regulating its reality and many things are regulated on which freedom of speech or the exercise of religion do not take precedence. An impartial jury guaranteed by the sixth amendment gives the state the right to disqualify a juror based on lack of impartiality. Attorney for the prosecution and defense routinely disqualify jurors by challenges with absolutely no requirement to even state let alone prove the nature of the disqualification. And the judge is acting perfectly legally if upon investigation he/she disqualifies a juror as not being impartial for any reason.

  1. Linda Salavarria's Avatar Linda Salavarria

    You're religious ? Great. But a jury must decide based on evidence presented to them in court or through other means accepted by the judicial system. Period. You can pray fir clarity to make your decision but to wait for evidence from god or to judge the evidence through a personal lense of your own religion is not acceptable. Hey, not everyone believes in god the same as their neighbor, so one must stick to the evidence alone to be fair and impartial.

  1. Richard Lee Cornell's Avatar Richard Lee Cornell

    What if you also believe that God has spoken to the jury, directly. That he hears the voice of God. If the Pope in Rome hears the words of God why can not this person also hear the word of God. Solution! Toss him off the jury panel.

    1. Alexander Clarke's Avatar Alexander Clarke

      The Pope claims to hear the words of God and the followers believe it. Religion has no place in the jury room.

  1. Michael Paul Gadoua's Avatar Michael Paul Gadoua

    God reserves his adjudication of a soul for the afterlife. He does not intervene with the acts of Man in life, but will address behavior when they appear before him and answer for their deeds (good and bad).

  1. Christian's Avatar Christian

    Ultimately, it is our choice to follower the inner voice of God, or the leadings of the Holy Spirit of Truth, in the Loving kindness of Yahshua Messiah... Science is good, but art and music and emotions live and breath and give meaning to our iving experiences - even courtrooms. :- ) Love Saves.

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