100 word response 1 reference/intext citation Due 2/3/2024
Throughout millennia of human history and numerous religious traditions, clergy members have escorted condemned individuals to their demise and offered prayers over them while they were being executed. And for three centuries, the legal custom in the United States has continuously permitted religious members to offer prayers for the condemned. That all changed in 2019 when the State of Alabama refused to allow an imam to pray with a Muslim prisoner prior to his execution (Ramirez v. Collier. Becket, June 2022). Only a few weeks later, the Supreme Court intervened when the State of Texas tried to do the same thing to a Buddhist prisoner. Murphy v. Collier held that Texas had to allow the prisoner’s Buddhist spiritual advisor to accompany him to the death chamber. Since then, Christian inmates in Texas and Alabama have received the same level of protection from the Supreme Court. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) implemented two policies that go against centuries of custom, prohibiting clergy from touching the prisoner and from praying aloud, in spite of these unambiguous rulings and centuries of history, including its own customary norms (Ramirez v. Collier. Becket, June 2022). John Henry Ramirez, a death row convict, requested that the Supreme Court direct TDCJ to abide by the Constitution, federal law, and its own long standing practice. He also requested that his spiritual advisor, a Southern Baptist pastor, be permitted to hold his hand and pray publicly for him in his last moments. Therefore, the Supreme Court decided on March 24, 2022, that Texas had to permit Ramirez’s pastor to pray aloud and touch him in the execution chamber. According to Becket’s amicus brief, the Court’s decision was supported by the “rich history of clerical prayer… dating back well before the founding of our Nation” (Ramirez v. Collier. Becket, June 2022). Texas was unable to satisfy stringent scrutiny on its bans on the laying of hands in the execution chamber and on audible prayer because of this lengthy history. As far as evidence, upon examining the documentation, we discover that there is no independent scientific basis demonstrating that a particular knife can be recognized based on the scars left on cartilage. The expert’s self-serving statement endorsing this approach served as the only proof that was obtained. According to the medical examiner’s testimony, this kind of weapon might have caused the stab wound. When the trial judge said, “For the first time in the history of the Florida courts… I have permitted evidence knives, which the jury considered in arriving at their verdict,” she indicated concern about this kind of evidence (Ramirez v. Collier. Becket, June 2022). The need that the hearing be handled fairly is equally significant as the burden of proof that must be proven at the hearing. Undoubtedly, a hearing over the admissibility of innovative scientific evidence is an adversarial process wherein the trial judge, acting as the trier of fact, is presented with conflicting evidence. The trial judge is deprived of a complete presentation of pertinent evidence in the absence of expert testimony offered by both sides. This is particularly crucial in a criminal trial because the defendant is entitled to a number of fundamental rights, not the least of which is the right to call witnesses as part of the due process procedure. The fundamental idea behind this rule, it was stated, is that since a courtroom is not a laboratory, scientific experiments should not be conducted there. A procedure must be regarded as less dependable for use in courtrooms if the scientific community deems it unreliable for its own objectives. Does this mean that a court using the Frye test does not have to accept a “nose count” of subject matter experts? Rather, the theory in question may be “sufficiently tested and accepted by an expert’s personal experience rather than knowledge”; the court may do this by reviewing a variety of sources, including expert testimony, scientific and legal publications, and judicial judgments (Ramirez v. Collier. Becket, June 2022).