A not so normal sentence on a normal day – “So you got Jury Duty”! you might want to look up these words and phrases – , “peremptory challenge, ” “death-qualified” , “Fair and Balanced”.

“- the blogger in the jury room please stand up”!

The other thing that the blog could produce is evidence that the juror has prejudged the case. It could also provide evidence that in some cases perhaps the jurors lied or fudged the truth during voir dire. All of those could cause motions for new trial,” Conrad said.

A New York trial judge, state Supreme Court Justice Helen Freedman, said jurors should not blog until the trial is over.

“You’re not supposed to talk to anyone about the case, so by posting or blogging you’re talking to people about the case,” she said.

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);

i.e; –
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.”

1. Mandatory Disqualification:

      Biased Jurors –

  • Any person who “has a state of mind regarding the defendant, the case, or the person alleged to have been injured … that will prevent the juror from acting with impartiality.” (913.03); Any person who “has formed or expressed any opinion or is sensible of any bias or prejudice concerning it.” (1.431);
  • Any person “interested in any issue to be tried” in the action (40.013 & 1.431); Any person who is an employee or who has been an employee of any party within 30 days before trial (1.431);
  • Any person under prosecution for any crime (40.013);
  • Convicted felons or those convicted of bribery, forgery, perjury or larceny (unless rights restored) (40.013);
  • Governor and his cabinet (40.013); Clerk of Court; Full time Law enforcement officers and investigators (unless they choose to serve)(40.013);
  • Persons related by blood or marriage within the third degree to the plaintiff, defendant or the attorneys (913.03 & 1.431);
  • Any person who does not possess sufficient knowledge of reading, writing or arithmetic to understand the case, if the case requires such knowledge (1.431)

Goodspeed. . . .

 

[citation – Vesna Jaksic
The National Law Journal
March 19, 2007 ]

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