WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected an appeal from a federal death row inmate who said his death sentence should have been thrown out because of a South Carolina juror's misconduct.
The justices did not comment in turning down Brandon Basham, who was sentenced to death for kidnapping and killing 44-year-old Alice Donovan in 2002.
The foreman on Basham's jury was held in contempt of court by the trial judge after it was learned that she called five news organizations and made 71 other calls to two fellow jurors, despite repeated warnings from the judge to refrain from discussing the case with anyone.
In the case from Columbia, U.S. District Judge Joseph F. Anderson Jr. found that the behavior of juror Cynthia Wilson was so outrageous that he held her in contempt of court, ordering her to return $2,500 of her juror's pay and perform 120 hours of community service.
Anderson said he would have put Wilson in jail for six months if she did not have four children at home.
But when Basham asked for his death sentence to be thrown out as a result of Wilson's conduct, Anderson refused, and the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., backed him up.
And when Basham took his plea to the Supreme Court, Solicitor General Elena Kagan agreed that the judge had made the correct call.