- The Washington Times - Monday, December 27, 2004

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — The state’s highest court has ruled that New Jersey prosecutors cannot bar overtly religious people from serving on juries.

The 6-0 ruling last week by the state Supreme Court overturned an appellate court decision and ordered a new trial for Lloyd Fuller, who was convicted in 2000 of armed robbery in Essex County and is serving a 14-year term.

The prosecutor during Fuller’s trial, who was not identified in court documents, used two of his challenges to exclude a man who said he was a missionary and another man who the lawyer thought was Muslim.

The prosecutor argued that religious people would be too sympathetic to the defense. Fuller appealed, saying that the juror removals violated his 14th Amendment right to equal protection.

Chief Justice Deborah T. Poritz, writing for the court, said the prosecutor’s belief that “demonstrably religious persons are all alike in sharing defense-minded sympathies” is too broad.

Such a belief “suggests the very stereotypes that have been used to justify a blanket exclusion that the law condemns,” she wrote.

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