Right to Impartial Jurors
Your client has a constitutional right, in both civil and criminal cases, to have his or her case heard and decided by an “impartial” jury. See Florida Constitution, Declaration of Rights, Article 1, Section 22 and Section 16.
This fundamental right to an impartial jury is the same in both civil and criminal cases. State v. Neil, 457 So. 2d 481 (Fla. 1984); City of Miami v. Cornett, 463 So. 2d 399 (Fla. 3DCA 1985). The trial lawyer must be aware of Florida Statute 913.12 which states: “The qualifications of jurors in criminal cases shall be the same as their qualifications in civil cases.” The “burden of proof” may be different between civil and criminal cases, but the qualifications of jurors are not! The qualifications of the jurors are the same regardless of whether the case is a murder trial or a slip-and-fall trial. This statute is important because it broadens the case law available to the trial lawyer. The appellate cases, be they civil or criminal, apply equally in all proceedings. Criminal case law applies just as much in a civil trial as it does in a criminal trial when the issue is the qualifications of the jurors, and vice versa. See e.g. Pacot v. Wheeler, 758 So2d 1141 (Fla 4 DCA 2000) “We note that this strict standard, which is equally applicable in civil and criminal cases, does not appear to leave room for “broad” discretion in these circumstances.”