Criminal Justice

Prosecutor Removes Ash from Forehead at Request of Judge

A defense lawyer objected last Wednesday when an Iowa prosecutor returned to an attempted murder trial after a lunch break with ash on his forehead.

Assistant Marshall County Attorney Paul Crawford was observing Ash Wednesday, the Marshalltown, Iowa, Times-Republican reports. Defense lawyer Aaron Hawbaker objected, saying he feared jurors could be swayed for or against the prosecution by the religious display.

Judge Michael Moon said he tended to agree with the defense objection, spurring Crawford to remove the ash, the story says. “I understand his position and his request was made out of an abundance of caution,” Crawford told the newspaper. “I can live with it.”

Rob Boston, a spokesperson for Americans United for Separation of Church and State, told the Times-Republican that the issue involves a gray area. In some instances, a display of religious preferences can be the basis for an appeal or mistrial, but he was unsure if this instance would meet the criteria.

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