Topic: Appellate Issues

Boston Marathon Bomber’s Death Sentence Vacated due to Possible Juror Bias

Last week, the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit vacated Boston Marathon Bomber Dzhorkar Tsarnaev’s death sentence due to a trial judge not properly vetting a juror for possible bias.  Tsarnaev was convicted and sentenced to death in 2015 for his role in the horrific April 2015 Boston Marathon bombing which killed 3 people and injured more than 260 other people.  In a 224 page opinion, the […]

August 3, 2020

Reversible Error to Impose Time Limits on Voir Dire

Last week the Fourth District Court of Appeal reversed an aggravated battery conviction based on a trial court improperly limiting the amount of time an attorney could ask questions to a prospective jury panel.  Strachan v. State, ___ So. 3d ___ (Fla. 4th DCA 2019). In Strachan, the trial court entered a scheduling order before trial limiting voir dire to forty-five minutes per side, noting if either side needed additional […]

October 7, 2019

“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

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