“My” Unpredictable Jurors, Pt 1

I enjoy working with jurors. They are upstanding citizens doing their civic duty, sometimes at great personal sacrifice.  However, like everything else in the criminal justice system, jurors can be unpredictable. Murphy's Law overrides the entire criminal justice system. They Can/Can’t Get By Without Me at Work I had one woman prospective juror who tried to … Continue reading “My” Unpredictable Jurors, Pt 1

Roger Williams -“Early American Heroes of Religious Liberty” (Pt 2/5)

Concept of "Separation of Church and State" Roger Williams Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) is given credit for the phrase and concept of “separation of church and state.” That credit is largely misplaced. The person most responsible for “separation of church and state,” is Roger Williams (1601-1684). Roger Williams made a "monumental contribution. . .  to the cause … Continue reading Roger Williams -“Early American Heroes of Religious Liberty” (Pt 2/5)

Religion in Colonial America: “Early Heroes of Religious Liberty” (Pt 1/5)

Unbelievably, after 400 years, freedom of religion is still controversial in America. In the beginning, religious issues permeated colonial America. Members of various sects immigrated to the New World seeking a safe haven for worship.  Some of these religions flourished, some stagnated, some evolved, some fragmented, and some failed. Colonial Denominations Calvinists dominated early Massachusetts.  … Continue reading Religion in Colonial America: “Early Heroes of Religious Liberty” (Pt 1/5)

“There is a God: How to Respond to Atheism in the Last Days”

Atheism and secularism threatens Latter-day Saints Robert D. Hales observed, “We live when the darkness of secularism is deepening around us.  Belief in God is widely questioned, and even attacked in the name of political, social and even religious causes.” (“Seeking to Know God,” Ensign, Nov. 2009) LDS Professor Hyrum Lewis declared: “Atheism has been … Continue reading “There is a God: How to Respond to Atheism in the Last Days”

The Bizarre Case of the “Sacred Clown” Prison Medicine Man

Inmates and Clergy - General Rules of Law In my Constitutional Law class we discussed that prisoners were originally considered "slaves of the state." They had no constitutional rights.  Prison rules and regulations were upheld if they had the slightest "legitimate penological interest." Currently, inmates don’t forfeit their first amendment rights to the free exercise … Continue reading The Bizarre Case of the “Sacred Clown” Prison Medicine Man

“Bizarre” Religious Attire in Court

Religious Attire in the Courtroom: The General Rules Judges have broad discretion in establishing rules of practice in their own courtrooms.  This power includes standards of personal appearance and attire.  Sometimes, the judge's dress standards must yield to someone’s sincere religious beliefs.  For example, the First Amendment Free Exercise Clause generally requires the judge to … Continue reading “Bizarre” Religious Attire in Court

The LDS Juror and The Clueless Lawyer

Just about everyone who knows me well, knows that I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Most Orange County attorneys who regularly appear in my court know I’m LDS. I was presiding over a driving under the influence (DUI) jury trial. We were selecting the jury. The clerks, bailiff, reporter, … Continue reading The LDS Juror and The Clueless Lawyer

Prayer in Public Schools: The Practical Problems

In 1962, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that prayer in the classroom violated the religious Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.  (Engel v. Vitale, 370 U.S. 421 (1962)).  This case caused a firestorm of criticism. The Court explained, “There can be no doubt that state prayer program officially establishes the religious beliefs embodied in the … Continue reading Prayer in Public Schools: The Practical Problems

Don’t Take Grandma’s Ashes to School

When I started teaching my Advanced Constitutional Law Class on Law and Religion, I had no idea about the volume of issues and cases involved. There was enough material to quickly fill my 750-page textbook, “Religion and Law: Cases and Materials.”  Moreover, there was enough new information that, after ten years, I was on my … Continue reading Don’t Take Grandma’s Ashes to School