Don’t “Accept” A Bad Jury

April 19, 2007

This week the 4th DCA reminds us never to “accept” a jury panel if it contains objectionable jurors. If you “accept” the panel after jury selection without renewing your objections before the jury is sworn, you will probably have failed to preserve your objections for appellate review. You should always renew your objections to the jurors on the panel before the jury is sworn. See, Glinton v. State, 956 So. 2d 497 (Fla. 4DCA 2007).

In Glinton, the defendant objected to the striking of two black jurors during voir dire. However, prior to swearing in the panel, the trial court asked if the panel was acceptable to both sides. Both attorneys accepted the jury and said they were satisfied, thereby failing to properly preserve for appeal the issue of the alleged improper striking of the two black jurors.

Fla R Civ P 1.431(f) states that no one shall be sworn as a juror until the jury has been accepted by the parties or until all challenges have been exhausted. However, I am unaware of any rule that obligates the court to ask the lawyers whether the jury is acceptable at the conclusion of voir dire. It may be just a custom or tradition and/or curiosity with some judges. As a practical matter it would seem prudent for the trial lawyer to always object to the jury panel before it is sworn thereby preserving all issues and objections raised during voir dire.

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