Trial Judge Reversed Due to Arbitrary Time Limits on Jury Selection

A first-degree murder conviction was reversed last month due to the trial court imposing arbitrary time limits during jury selection. In Hopkins v. State, 2017 WL 2983284 (Fla. 4th DCA, July 12, 2017), the trial court advised counsel, for the first time at the beginning of trial, that each side would be limited to three hours for voir dire to question the venire of fifty jurors. This equated to approximately […]

August 17, 2017

Florida Supreme Court Revises Standard Juror Questionnaire

Earlier this year the Florida Supreme Court approved changes to the standard Juror Questionnaire, Form 1.983. There are currently only two standard juror questionnaires approved for use in civil trials by the Florida Supreme Court – Form 1.983 and Form 1.984.  Form 1.983 is entitled “Prospective Juror Questionnaire” and Form 1.984 is entitled “Jury Voir Dire Questionnaire.” Form 1.984 is a shorter questionnaire intended to be sent to prospective jurors […]

April 24, 2017

Court Lifts Limits on Alternate Jurors in Civil Trials

The Florida Rules of Civil Procedure have been amended by the Florida Supreme Court to remove the limit on the number of alternate jurors in civil trials. Effective January 1, 2017, Rule 1.431 has been amended to read “The court may direct that 1 or more jurors be impaneled to sit as alternate jurors in addition to the regular panel.” Currently the rule imposes a limit of two alternate jurors […]

November 29, 2016

Juror’s Mid-Trial Tweets Not Enough for New Trial

This month, in a case of first impression in Florida, the Fourth District Court of Appeal held that statements posted by a juror on social media during trial were insufficiently prejudicial to require a new trial. The juror posted a series of tweets on his Twitter account during jury selection and trial which included: a) “I got picked as a juror … I hate this s___. I’m so pissed, I […]

October 31, 2016

Is it Possible to “Unstrike” a Potential Juror?

After he finished his voir dire questions, a lawyer used his last peremptory strike on one of the remaining jurors. The jury panel was then accepted by his opponent. Before the jury was sworn, the lawyer asked the judge to “unstrike” the last juror he had stricken, asserting he could “backstrike” into the panel at anytime. The judge denied the request, correctly observing that a lawyer can backstrike only if […]

October 19, 2016

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