Topic: Appellate Issues

“Not Particularly Engaged” Juror Should Have Been Stricken

A trial court’s decision was reversed early in June for failing to strike a juror based on her nonverbal behavior.  The Fifth District Court of Appeal held that a juror being “not particularly engaged” during jury selection was a legally sufficient race-neutral reason to strike the juror.  Travelers Home and Marine Ins. Co., v. Gallo, 2018 WL 2448799 (Fla. 5th DCA, June 1, 2018). At trial, after concluding voir dire, […]

July 3, 2018

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

Don’t Let Sleeping Dogs Lie

Potential juror Sanders may have been sleeping during jury selection. Florida law is clear that “sleeping” during voir dire is a valid race-neutral reason for striking a juror  — not to wake him up,  but to remove him from the panel! See, Davis v. State, 560 So2d 1346 (Fla 3d DCA 1990). When the prosecutor used a peremptory strike against juror Sanders, the lawyer for the defendant, Eugene Harriell, raised […]

February 25, 2010

SCOTUS Upholds Verdict of Improper Foreperson

Late last month the United States Supreme Court upheld the murder conviction of a man, Michael Rivera, who was convicted by a jury whose foreperson, Deloris Gomez, was improperly allowed to sit on the jury. Rivera v. Illinois, 556 U.S. __ (2009). During jury selection, Rivera’s attorney properly attempted to use one of his peremptory strikes against Gomez, but the trial judge wrongfully refused to allow the strike, erroneously believing […]

April 15, 2009

Whitby Walks

Edgar Sylvester Whitby was prosecuted for permanently disfiguring his victim by throwing hot water on her. He was convicted of aggravated battery “by a clearly impartial jury” in an “otherwise error free” trial. But Edgar is a free man today, and the Supreme Court of Florida just turned down the State’s appeal of this case. State v. Whitby, 975 So. 2d 1124 (Fla. 2008). What happened? During jury selection the prosecutor sought to use […]

February 19, 2008

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