One Bad Juror Is All It Takes

November 22, 2006

At the conclusion of Voir Dire, the Defendant wanted to strike four jurors for cause. The judge denied all the challenges. At least one of the jurors was questionable. On appeal, a new trial was ordered by the 4th DCA because “seating a single juror whose impartiality may reasonably be questioned is a structural error not subject to harmless error analysis.”

In Dorsett v. State, 941 So2d 587 (4 DCA 2006). the Court noted that the prospective juror had stated she thought the defendant should have to prove his innocence. There was nothing in the record to indicate she ever receded from that preconception. Thus, there was a doubt about her impartiality. “A juror is not impartial when she has difficultly accepting and employing the presumption of innocence.”  It was error for the trial court to deny the challenge for cause, and a new trial was ordered.

Close

Contact Robert W. Kelley, Esq.