New York Appellate Court Upholds Lower Court Denial of Motion to Dismiss Juror Based on Allegations of Impartiality and Bias

As we discussed in our previous blog, if you are involved in a criminal trial, one of the most crucial steps is selecting the jurors. There are many rules that apply to this part of the legal process, and it is crucial to make sure you protect your right to a fair and unbiased jury. As seasoned New York criminal defense lawyers, the trial attorneys at Tilem & Associates have guided many individuals through the jury selection process and their case in general.

A recent New York appellate opinion discusses a case involving a jury dismissal issue. The defendant was facing criminal charges in connection with the death of a five-year-old. During the jury selection phase, defense counsel questioned one of the prospective jurors regarding whether or not he or she had issues with the fact that the case involved the death of a toddler. The juror indicated that he could not be impartial because of the victim. Another juror indicated that he also felt he could not be impartial. The defense counsel asked the jurors whether they agreed that the burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt was on the prosecution. The jurors all agreed, including the two jurors who indicated that they did not believe they could remain impartial. The defense counsel then asked whether the jurors would have trouble finding the defendant not guilty if the prosecution failed to meet its burden of proof. One of the jurors who showed initial hesitation expressed doubt about this question.

The trial court then asked the doubtful jurors a series of questions to determine their ability to be unbiased and to apply the law fairly. Based on this examination, the court dismissed one of the jurors. Defense counsel asked the court to dismiss the other doubtful juror, but the court denied this motion. Defense counsel then used one of their peremptory challenges to dismiss the juror. The case proceeded, and the defendant eventually appealed the judgment.

On review, the appellate court concluded that the trial judge did not commit a reversible error in denying the defendant’s request for the doubtful juror to be dismissed for cause. During its questioning of the juror, the court obtained unequivocal assurances that the juror would be impartial and would apply the law appropriately. The appellate court referred to the laws regarding jury selection and noted that there is no specific phrase or statement that a juror must provide to dispel any doubt as to his or her ability to be impartial. Instead, the court must examine the totality of the circumstances involved during the voir dire process to determine whether the juror has stated unequivocally that he or she can be impartial.

If you are facing a criminal trial or involved in a criminal investigation, it is essential that you speak to a qualified criminal defense lawyer to ensure that your rights are protected. It may be tempting to speak with law enforcement in order to clear your name, but this can do more harm than good. At Tilem & Assocates, our confident and tenacious criminal defense lawyers can stand by your side at each step of the process and ensure that you understand all of the aspects of your case. To set up your free consultation, call us now at 1-877-377-8666 or contact us online.

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