Heads it’s murder, tails it’s manslaughter

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In an act of judicial recklessness that would make an LAPD gang unit blush, a Kentucky jury recently decided the fate of an accused murderer by tossing a coin. The Louisville, Ky. COURIER-JOURNAL reports on the case of Phillip J. Givens II, who was convicted of murdering his girlfriend by a Jefferson County jury. The judge declared a mistrial Monday when he discovered how the jury reached its verdict.

The jury had deadlocked on whether Givens should be convicted of murder or the lesser charge of manslaughter. Ten of the jurors were willing to compromise, but one was unwilling to budge on manslaughter and another was firmly for murder. Apparently unaware of the term “hung jury,” the 12 impatient jurors decided to settle the dispute by flipping a silver dollar. Word of the coin flip leaked to a court employee, who informed the judge. Had the conviction stood, Givens could have received a maximum of life in prison.

“It kind of blows your mind,” Givens’ lawyer said. “I think they had a lapse in judgment, and I’d like to think it doesn’t go on very often.”

To ensure that it doesn’t, the Circuit Court will now reportedly require at least a best-of-seven series to resolve deadlocks.

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily bluster—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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