On this Law Day we turn to this edition of "What's wrong with this picture."
Up in Ashland County a young alleged auto thief was on trial. The judge, Robert E. Eaton, refused a defense motion to strike one of the prospective jurors: his mother.
The judge said he could find no legal reason to do so. The Wisconsin Supreme Court, in reversing the conviction on appeal, essentially said: "Duh."
Well, they didn't exactly say "duh" but pretty close: “A presiding judge’s mother sitting as a juror is a special circumstance so fraught with the possibility of bias that we must find objective bias regardless of the particular juror’s assurances of impartiality.”
The problem was so clear that you have to wonder why it took the state's highest court four months to issue its opinion.
The court didn't just slap up the judge but also whacked the district attorney who prosecuted the case for objecting to removing the judge's mom from the jury panel for cause. The court said that the prosecutor in a case like this should have joined in the request in the best interests of justice.
Maybe "duh" isn't erudite enough for some of my readers so I'll expand it to two words: "No brainer."