People v. Brandon Warrington

Decided On : 12/22/2016
Issue before the Court: Whether the trial court abused its discretion by not granting a challenge for cause to a juror who initially stated that she could not be fair in a case involving the murder of a child, but then unequivocally stated she could be fair.
Held: No.  
CAL Observes: Because of the unique set of facts in this case, it has limited precedential value.  During voir dire, two jurors, numbers 123 and 383 initially stated that they could not be fair in a case involving the murder of a child.  The judge first spoke to number 123, asking if he could set aside this particular bias.  The juror could not promise to do so and was excused.  The court then turned its attention to number 383, specifically incorporating by reference the questions it had put to number 383.  This time, 383 unequivocally said she could be fair.  Defense counsel, though conceding the juror had been rehabilitated, nonetheless challenged the juror for cause, which challenge was denied.   A careless reader might think that the case stands for the proposition that a juror who has indicated a specific bias can be rehabilitated merely by promising not to convict if she has a reasonable doubt.  That is specifically not what the Court held.  Obviously a juror’s promise not to convict a defendant she believes is not guilty does not resolve the question of whether the juror’s bias will slant her evaluation, in the first instance,  of the evidence presented to her.

Related Information:
People v Warrington