No oath--no conviction, Court of Appeals says

ANN ARBOR (AP) -- 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.

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 last 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.

Published: Tue, Mar 9, 2010

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