I'm a criminal justice major and i have question. My question is, can religion or ethnicity be discussed in a case in court? Why or Why not?we are sitting in a mock trail and it has been brougtht...

I'm a criminal justice major and i have question. My question is, can religion or ethnicity be discussed in a case in court? Why or Why not?

we are sitting in a mock trail and it has been brougtht up has nothing to do with case just want to know if it can be used in trial

Expert Answers
Lorraine Caplan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I am going to give you a typical lawyer's answer: It depends.  Why is religion or ethnicity being raised as an issue?  There are certainly circumstances in which these would be legitimately raised in court, and there are clearly circumstances in which raising these would serve no purpose. 

Cases in which religion or ethnicity might be raised include cases filed under anti-discrimination statutes or prosecutions under a hate crimes statute.  In both instances, religion, ethnicity, or race is an element of the case.  Raising these would not be objectionable under any circumstances.  Another instance in which religion, ethnicity, or race might be raised would be as an attempt to discredit a witness, as was done in the O.J. Simpson trial.  Still another example would be a case in which a religious institution was suing or being sued.  There the question of religion could hardly be avoided, although, I must say that what kind of religious institution was in court would probably not be relevant to the suit.

Generally speaking, though, none of these factors has any place in the courtroom because they are not material to any other kind of case being tried.  If one of these factors is raised, you can be very sure that the side against which it was raised would be objecting loudly. 

The Constitution and its Amendments provide for equality for all in the country, and a court that allowed religion, ethnicity, race, or gender to be part of a proceeding in which these were not relevant factors would be depriving the parties of due process.