Jurors rushed to judgment in an Ohio murder trial because they were forbidden to take smoking breaks during deliberations, say attorneys seeking to overturn a man's death-penalty conviction. That claim is among 17 allegations before the Ohio Supreme Court in an appeal involving Phillip Elmore, 43, who was convicted three years ago in the beating and strangling of his ex-girlfriend, reports the Columbus Dispatch.
The Supreme Court heard arguments in the case Tuesday. A New York Times account of the hourlong session indicated that the justices were unimpressed with the smoking argument. “You're saying that because the trial judge didn't allow them to smoke that smokers are being discriminated against?” Justice Maureen O'Connor said. “Are you proposing a new right for an entire class of people?” Before the hearing, Elmore's lawyers acknowledged that the tactic was unusual and unlikely to succeed. “We don't believe this is the best issue in the case,” said one. A decision is expected in the fall.