In 2005, Scott Peterson was sentenced to death by lethal injection after he was convicted of first-degree murder of his pregnant wife, Laci Peterson, and second-degree murder of their unborn son, in one of the most highly publicized court cases in American judicial history.
Currently residing in San Quentin State Prison, Peterson had his death sentence overturned by the Supreme Court of California on August 24, 2020 because the judge in Peterson’s trial improperly dismissed jurors who were opposed to capital punishment.
This past Wednesday, October 14, 2020, the California Supreme Court ordered a trial judge to consider whether Peterson’s two murder convictions should be overturned.
The main issue, among the many reasons Peterson’s lawyers say his convictions should be overturned, according to the Los Angeles Times, is the fact that juror Richelle Nice “committed prejudicial misconduct by not disclosing her prior involvement with other legal proceedings, including but not limited to being the victim of a crime.”
All the potential jurors were asked whether they had ever been a victim of a crime or involved in a lawsuit. Nice said no to both questions.
In fact, Peterson’s lawyers said, in 2000 Nice was 4-1/2 months pregnant when she was threatened by her boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend.
Nice filed a lawsuit to obtain a restraining order against the woman, saying she feared for her unborn child. The attacker was tried based on Nice’s charges, convicted and sentenced to a week in jail, according to Peterson’s lawyers.
“We are certainly pleased that, as it did in reversing Scott’s penalty on direct appeal several weeks ago, the Supreme Court recognized the importance of a fairly selected jury,” Peterson’s attorney Cliff Gardner told InTouch. “In particular, we agree not only with the Court’s apparent concern about juror candor during the jury selection process, but with its recognition about how central the misconduct was to the ability of the jury to reach a fair decision in this case.”
While it seems unlikely that Peterson will end up a free man as a result of this new court order – the California Supreme Court affirmed his convictions for murder when they removed his death sentence – the court did admit at that time that “a series of clear and significant errors in jury selection that, under long-standing United States Supreme Court precedent, undermined Peterson’s right to an impartial jury at the penalty phase.”
Peterson’s trial attorney Mark Geragos, however, believes his client will eventually be exonerated.