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Murder Conviction Tossed Because Judge Advised Jurors Not to Be ‘Hardheads’

Posted May 6, 2011 8:50 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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An Oklahoma appeals court has overturned a woman’s murder conviction because a judge advised jurors not to be “hardheads” and told them to reach a quick verdict.

The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals ruled on behalf of murder defendant Kassie Lakei Bills because of the remarks by Judge Ray Elliott of Oklahoma County, according to the Oklahoman and KFOR-TV.

The court found fault with these remarks by the judge: “If one of your fellow jurors starts to stray off, gets far outside of this narrowly defined responsibility, the other 11 of you have got to go, ‘Wait a minute, let’s go, we don’t want to be up here all day, all week, all month, all year.' Let's get the case decided, so don't be one of those hardheads, so to speak."

The appeals court called Elliott’s remarks "an inherently coercive intrusion into the jury's deliberative process."

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