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Have You Ever Been In Court?

Last week the Fourth District Court of Appeal reinstated a $4.9 million dollar jury verdict against State Farm Insurance Company in a UM case that had been set aside by the trial judge on the grounds of “juror non-disclosure” about the juror’s prior litigation history. In Gamsen v State Farm, 36 FLW D1630A (Fla 4th […]

By Bob Kelley, August 1st, 2011 Add comment

Court Errs In Blocking Peremptory Strike

A single mistake in jury selection can result in an entire new trial. Nowhere is that truer than in the area of “Neil Challenges” and peremptory strikes. A mistake there is usually reversible error per se. In Garcia v. State , 35 FLW D2328 (Fla 3rd DCA 2010), the Defense wanted to exercise a peremptory […]

By Bob Kelley, November 2nd, 2010 1 comment

Memos Posted on Timing of Peremptory Strikes

Two memorandums of law were added to the Jury Blog today concerning the timing of peremptory strikes during jury selection. The law is clear that “the only fair [jury selection] scheme is to allow the parties to exercise their challenges … so that, before a party exercises a peremptory challenge, he has before him the […]

By Bob Kelley, October 6th, 2010 Add comment

Court Rejects “Confession of Error” in Voir Dire

Earlier this week the First District Court of Appeal, in a kafkaesque opinion, upheld a robbery conviction even though both the State and the Defense agreed on appeal that the trial judge had committed error during jury selection. In Hayes v. State, 35 FLW D2137A (Fla 1st DCA 2010), the defendant was charged with robbery […]

By Bob Kelley, September 30th, 2010 2 comments

IPhone + Encarta = New Trial

A jury verdict was reversed earlier this month due to juror misconduct when the foreperson used his Iphone to look up the definition of “prudent” on Encarta during a break in the jury’s deliberations.  In Tapanes v. State, 35 FLW D2031A (Fla 4 DCA 2010) the court wrote: “Although here we confront new frontiers in […]

By Bob Kelley, September 20th, 2010 2 comments

Can A Potential Juror Be Asked To “Promise” A Verdict?

A common technique in voir dire, especially by defense attorneys, is to ask each prospective juror during jury selection whether the juror will “promise” to return a certain kind of verdict (e.g. guilty or not guilty) if it is supported by the evidence. Many trial judges for a variety of reasons will not permit that […]

By Bob Kelley, August 19th, 2010 4 comments

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 […]

By Bob Kelley, February 25th, 2010 1 comment

U.S. Supreme Court Says Courtrooms Must Be Open To Public During Voir Dire

Last week, the United States Supreme Court held that trial judges should not exclude the public from courtrooms during jury selection. Eric Presley’s uncle came to court to watch jury selection in his nephew’s trial. He was the only spectator in the courtroom. The judge said he had to leave. The judge told him he […]

By Bob Kelley, January 26th, 2010 1 comment

“Hearing About” Murder Case Not Enough for Cause Challenge

Yesterday the Fourth District Court of Appeal upheld the trial court’s denial of a challenge for cause directed at a potential juror in a case involving murder-for-hire. In Samuels v. State, __ So. 2d __ (Fla 4th DCA, May 13, 2009), the Court reaffirmed the longstanding rule that if there is any reasonable doubt about […]

By Bob Kelley, May 14th, 2009 2 comments

Maximizing The Power of Peremptory Strikes

The law concerning the use of peremptory challenges in jury selection has been changing in recent years. There is a vast difference between Florida law and Federal law in this area. While “Cause is Still King,” the effective use of peremptory challenges can make or break the outcome of a trial. As Justice Adkins wrote […]

By Bob Kelley, April 20th, 2009 2 comments

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