Death to Jurors!
ArtSpitzer at AOL.COM
Mon Dec 15 20:59:25 PST 1997
Presumably the Twin Cities Courthouse is a smoke-free facility. That should
take care of this question under Smith.
Presumably the Hmong woman does not assert that her religion teaches her to
conduct the burning ritual in the courtroom rather than on the sidewalk. If
that's correct, it should take care of the question under RFRA.
Perhaps the more interesting question is whether the court could hold her in
contempt for threatening the lives of the witnesses and jurors. Apparently
she intended the threat quite seriously.
Indeed, it's apparently not just a threat -- it's an attempt. Is an attempted
murder immune from prosecution because the intended victim(s) do not believe
the attempt will succeed? I imagine a person who shot bullets at an intended
victim could be convicted even if the intended victim believed he was immune
from harm by bullets (didn't the Ghost Dancers believe just that?). If a
prosecutor chose to indict the Hmong woman for attempted murder, and the trial
judge dismissed the charges because her attempt was not "real," would that
violate the First Amendment because it required the court to find that her
religious beliefs (that the burning ritual would cause death) were false?
In a message dated 12/15/97 7:24:50 PM, mfailing at PIPER.HAMLINE.EDU wrote:
>A new problem for the list: in the Twin Cities news this week, a Hmong
>woman was denied permission to conduct--in open court--a traditional
>burning ritual in which she asked God to kill the people who testified
>falsely against her and the jurors who found against her. This was an
>employment harassment case, in which she won on one of several counts,
>receiving an award of $1000 instead of the $2.5 million she asked for.
>Among other things, the judge (who was aghast at the request) said that he
>had heard of a case where this
>was permitted and a couple of the witnesses subsequently died, and noted
>that in Minnesota, we do not have the death penalty. Should she have been
>permitted to burn? (She went ahead and did it outside; one juror, asked
>for comment, said none of the jurors were particularly worried, but. . .)
>Marie A. Failinger
>Hamline University School of Law
>mfailing at piper.hamline.edu
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