Had a jury trial start today, and one of the pre-trial motions I filed was to have the Court bar the prosecutor from wearing a religious symbol, in Court, and in front of the jury. While the elected prosecutor is a female, the motion was directed at her assistant, who is participating in the trial. He is a fundamentalist Xtian who wears a three inch cross around his neck, advertising how he "loves him some Jesus!"
Long story short, I argued my client's right to receive a fair trial trumped his right to advertise his religion. And, how his display of the cross put "god on his side" in a secular Court of law. 5th and 6th Amendment, and the first part of the establishment clause of the 1st Amendment, running head on into the second part of the establishment clause and right of freedom of expression under the 1st Amendment.
Not only did the judge rule in my favor, he made it clear that there would be some serious sanctions against the State should he have that thing draped around his neck in front of not only this jury, but any future jury.
Now, when I won (the hearing - trial is still going on), you'd have thought I shot his brand new puppy on Xmas morning. "Mom and Dad. I going to name him Spark-(ka-pow!)-EEEEEEEEE!!!!!"
Guess 'ole JC must have been filling out his NCAA bracket and missed the hearing.
In case you're wondering, here's a video of the prosecutor wearing the cross. By the way, it was a campaign video and he lost.
Bling has no use in my world either.
As a law student, this is truly inspirational to me, Pat. We have the same issues in Norway too, mostly concerning people who want to wear the hijab in courts whether as defendant, prosecutor or even as judge, and also, as cops.
Thank you Marianne. I truly appreciate that. Here in America, the idea is supposed to be the separation of church and state. But, we always have to vigilante against crossing what Thomas Jefferson said, was a wall of separation between the two. It's not the secularists who are trying to cross that wall, it's the theists. As secularists, we are content to leave the religious to their own devices - just please leave it out of government and my personal life. Unfortunately, they can't accept that since they believe they have an absolute monopoly on truth.
This wasn't any earthshaking case, or grand legal precedent. And I'm certainly no Clarence Darrow (an American legal hero). But, we all need to be ever vigilante and even the small victories, as others here have said, are important.
Hope your legal career in Norway is as rewarding as mine here in the US. Best wishes, fellow counselor.
Ick! (re: the guy in the video)
I think that cross is a bit over-the-top baroque - something you might see on a pop-diva's neck, not a male, born-again xtian's.
Any victory for fairness is a Good one! Congrats.
Whoa, RML, I studied business law and later considered law for a second career.
A friend suggested that if I want to meet lawyers I should go to ACLU meetings. I did and became comfortable with attorneys. If a jury is to decide the case, an attorney has to be capable of pop-diva (pop-divus?) behavior.
What's-his-name's character in Chicago was way over the top, but an attorney has to move jurors in a desired direction. If any jurors are born-again xians, a cross would send them a message no attorney would say aloud.
Attorneys who don't object to such tactics? They're sleeping; don't hire them.
Hm-mm, how would I fire an attorney during a trial? Pat?
As to attorneys (those who do trials) being pop-divas, there's a certain amount of truth to that. I refer to myself and my colleagues as frustrated actors. And, the jury is our audience. Needless to say, any actor wants a good review, so you naturally "play" to the audience. And, in preparation of the "performance" you attempt to gain any advantage you can.
As to firing an attorney once a trial has started, good luck on that! Unless you've got a really good reason, you probably can't get rid of him/her once the jury has been selected and the trial has started. There are, of course, exceptions, e.g. you just found out he/she is having sex with your significant other or the opposing party, he/she shows up for court drunk or high, and passes out (I've actually seen that one happen - rare case where the attorney went to jail and the client didn't), or some such other egregious conduct. Short of that, if the lawyer is an idiot, your remedy is with the court of appeals.