Supreme Court 1/6/11


Osborne was convicted of capital murder and was sentenced to life without parole.  The Court affirmed his conviction.  The major issue raised, and the reason Justices Kitchens Graves and Dickinson dissented, was the failure of the trial court to declare a mistrial based on a sitting juror making inappropriate comments during voir dire. During jury selection, Juror Hull testified that he wanted to  know if he was going to sit on the jury rather than just sit around and wait.  Another potential jury member, Pitts, remarked that “I wish we would just hang him and get it over with and get out of here.”  Pitts was subsequently sat on the jury.  When brought to the trial court’s attention, Pitts was questioned and didn’t remember making the statement and she confirmed her impartiality.  The trial court deemed her remark ambivalent and merely a poor choice of words indicating a desire to avoid jury duty, like many others.  The trial court denied the motion for mistrial and the majority held that the trial court was in best position to determine if the jury was impartial and as such found the issue without merit.   I don’t know how her comment could be considered ambivalent.  In any trial, but a capital murder trial especially, jurors being impartial is crucial.  I wonder if the court would have reached a different decision if the jury had sentenced Osborne to death.


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