Scott Peterson, who was convicted in 2004 of murdering his pregnant wife Laci and their unborn son on Christmas Eve in 2002, is not a particularly sympathetic figure. His case was also one of the biggest ones of its time, and the entire trial played out in front of a national audience.
Why, then, could he be granted a new trial nearly two decades later?
Everybody deserves a fair trial, particularly when the stakes are high
The right to a fair trial in front of an impartial jury of your peers is one of the cornerstones of this country’s legal system. That’s why voir dire, the process of screening and selecting jurors for a case, is taken so seriously.
But even the best voir dire process can’t always weed out so-called “stealth” jurors. Those are jurors who either want to be part of a well-known, sensational trial because they hope to parlay their experience into some measure of fame or financial gain or jurors who have already made up their mind and want to see the defendant convicted.
In 2020, a deep look into the jurors who sat through Peterson’s trial revealed that one juror — a woman — lied about her life experiences. She never told the court that someone had stalked and harassed her (to the point where she took out a restraining order) while she was pregnant. In fact, she denied ever being involved in a domestic violence incident.
Because of this, Peterson’s death sentence was already overturned and changed to a life sentence. Now, he may win the right to an entirely new trial — with a fair jury.
When you’ve been unfairly convicted of a violent crime, don’t give up.
The Peterson case is a remarkable, highly visible example of what can happen when jurors don’t play by the rules.
Nobody should be deprived of the due process of law. If you are imprisoned for or your loved one was convicted of a violent crime, find out more about your appellate options.