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Supreme Court Rejects Death Penalty Appeal Over Juror’s 76 Phone Calls

Posted Jun 1, 2010 11:02 AM CDT
By Martha Neil

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A federal judge was so aggravated by the 76 phone calls made by the jury forewoman in a death penalty case that he held her in contempt and ordered her to forfeit $2,500 in court pay and perform 120 hours of community service.

And, if Cynthia Wilson hadn't had four children at home, he would have jailed her for six months for calling five news organizations and placing 71 other calls to fellow jurors, said U.S. District Judge Joseph Anderson Jr. of South Carolina. But he refused to throw out the death penalty imposed on defendant Brandon Basham, reports the Associated Press, and the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld that ruling.

Now the U.S. Supreme Court has refused to hear the appeal, in a one-line denial of certiorari in an order list (PDF) today that is provided by SCOTUSblog.

Although Basham contended that his death sentence should be reversed due to the bias of Wilson, a Lyman, S.C., nurse, the government argued that she actually wasn't biased and made no improper attempt to influence other jurors.

Wilson testified that she called the media to promote articles warning women of the dangers of shopping alone, apparently inspired by evidence in the case that the victims were abducted from a shopping mall and a store parking lot.

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