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Posted on Sat, Mar 6, 2010 : 10:38 a.m.

No oath - no conviction in Washtenaw County case, Michigan court says

By Staff

Words have meaning. Just ask Timothy Becktel.

He's getting a new trial because Washtenaw County Judge David Swartz failed to ask a jury to take an oath.


Timothy Becktel

In 2008, Becktel was sent to prison for at least 15 years for assault with intent to murder. His appellate lawyer, James Hall, successfully argued that the verdict should be thrown out because the jury didn't swear to return an honest decision based on law and evidence.

The Michigan Court of Appeals said Friday it must erase the verdict to preserve the fairness and integrity of the judicial system.

Assistant prosecutor David King says his office might appeal to the Michigan Supreme Court. He says Becktel's trial attorney never objected to the lack of a jury oath.


Phineas Gage IV

Sat, Mar 6, 2010 : 1:02 p.m.

This is national news. Kind of makes one wonder if some of those chaps who get death sentences in other states had less than perfect defense. Even though it wasn't a death sentence, the guy convicted in murder of Jane Mixer had his DNA on the evidence as well as someone else.


Sat, Mar 6, 2010 : 12:15 p.m.

Epic failure on all accounts. Someone needs to be the referee here (probably the clerk) and go through the pre-flight checklist to make sure ALL this required stuff happens. I expect it doesnt happen often and its a honest mistake (pun intended) but what a waste of everyones time, effort and associated costs.


Sat, Mar 6, 2010 : 11:45 a.m.

Wow! The Washtenaw County Court System has failed again!


Sat, Mar 6, 2010 : 11:38 a.m.

So is it common for this judge to not swear in a jury? How many more retrials do WE get to pay for? Does Mr. King really think its OK to not follow judicial rules if the defendant doesn't complain? I think the judge and Mr. king are in the wrong line of work- they don't seem to understand our judicial system. I feel sorry for the victim that has to go through the trial ordeal again.