Capital Cases: Individual Questioning for Racial Bias

In any case where the crime charged is punishable by death, the court will, on motion of either party, allow the parties, starting with the people, to examine the prospective jurors individually and outside the presence of the other prospective jurors in regards to their qualifications to serve as jurors. Each party will be given a fair opportunity to question a prospective juror as to any unexplored matter that affects his or her qualifications, including without limitation the possibility of racial bias on the part of the prospective juror, but the court will not allow questioning that’s repetitive or irrelevant, or questions as to a prospective juror’s knowledge of rules of law. If necessary to prevent improper questioning, the court will personally examine the prospective jurors. The scope of this examination will be in the discretion of the court. After the parties conclude their examinations of a prospective juror, the court might ask further questions as it deems proper regarding the qualifications of the prospective juror.

The proceedings provided will be conducted on the record; provided, however, that on motion of either party, and for good cause shown, the court can direct that all or a portion of the record of the proceedings be sealed.

Trial Jury: Challenge for Cause of an Individual Juror

A challenge for cause is an objection to a prospective juror and can be made only on the grounds that he or she doesn’t have the qualifications required by the judiciary law, or he or she has a state of mind that’s likely to preclude him or her from rendering an impartial verdict based on the evidence adduced at the trial, or he or she’s related in the sixth degree by consanguinity or affinity to the defendant, or to the person who was allegedly injured by the crime charged, or to a witness at the trial, or to counsel for the people or the defendant, or that he or she is or was a party adverse to any of these people in a civil action, or that he or she has complained against or been accused by any of these people in a criminal action, or that he or she bears some other relationship to any of the people of this nature that it’s likely to preclude him or her from rendering an impartial verdict, or he or she was a witness at the preliminary examination or before the grand jury or is going to be a witness at the trial, or he or she served on the grand jury that found the indictment in issue or served on a trial jury in an earlier civil or criminal action involving the same incident charged in the indictment, or the crime charged can be punishable by death and the prospective juror entertains conscientious opinions either against or in favor of this punishment as to preclude the juror from rendering an impartial verdict or properly exercising the discretion conferred on the juror by law in the determination of a sentence.

All issues of fact or law that arise on the challenge need to be tried and determined by the court. If the challenge is allowed, the court must exclude the person challenged from service. An erroneous ruling by the court allowing a challenge for cause by the people does not constitute reversible error unless the people have exhausted their peremptory challenges at the time or exhaust them before the selection of the jury is complete. An erroneous ruling by the court that denies a challenge for cause by the defendant doesn’t constitute reversible error unless the defendant’s exhausted his or her peremptory challenges at the time or, if he or she hasn’t, he or she peremptorily challenges the prospective juror and his or her peremptory challenges are exhausted before the selection of the jury’s complete.

While the letter of the law can at times seem complicated or confusing, it doesn’t always have to be. At Joseph Potashnik and Associates, PC, the people always come first. Let our New York City Criminal Lawyers help you, and make the first step by getting in touch with us today. It’ll be the best thing you do today.