CAL in the Courts

Denial of Defense Challenge For Cause Leads to Reversal of Client’s Conviction


In a murder and robbery prosecution against CAL client C.W., a prospective juror stated to the judge that he was an active NYPD officer and could be absolutely fair. When questioned further by defense counsel, he maintained that because  police officers testify “based on facts, evidence and what the victim tells us,” there’ was “no room to make error,” unless the witness provided the officer with inaccurate information.  On further questioning by defense counsel, the prospective juror allowed only “a little room” for the possibility of independent mistake, lying, or exaggeration.  The court conducted no follow-up questioning, and denied defense counsel’s challenge.  On September 26, 2017, AD1 reversed, finding that “[t]he panelist clearly showed a predisposition to believe that police officers testify truthfully,” and that he never expressly stated that his prior state of mind would not influence the verdict, as the law requires.  Barbara Zolot represented client C.W.