The Second Department determined defendant's conviction must be reversed because the trial court should have granted defense counsel request to excuse a prospective juror for cause. The juror said she “didn't know” whether the sexual assault of her aunt would affect her ability to judge the sexual-offense case for which the jury was being selected:
Here, during voir dire, one prospective juror indicated that because her aunt had been the victim of a violent sexual assault, it would “be a little bit hard” for her to keep an open mind when listening to the facts of this case. When asked whether she could “give the defendant in this case a fair trial,” she responded, “I can manage. Yes.” When asked if it was possible that her judgment in this case might be affected by her aunt's case, she responded, “Might.” The Supreme Court also asked the prospective juror if the fact that this case did not involve a sex crime would “change things” for her, and she responded, “Part of it. Yeah.” The prospective juror confirmed that she would refrain from blaming the defendant for what happened to her aunt or favoring the prosecution for successfully prosecuting her aunt's assailant, but when asked again by defense counsel whether her aunt's experience “might affect [her] ability to judge this case,” the juror paused and finally said, “I don't know.” The court denied the defendant's challenge for cause to this prospective juror. The defense then exercised a peremptory challenge to remove her and exhausted all of its peremptory challenges prior to the end of jury selection.
At no point did the prospective juror unequivocally state that her prior state of mind would not influence her verdict, and that she would render an impartial verdict based solely on the evidence. Under the circumstances, the Supreme Court should have granted the defense's challenge for cause to this prospective juror … . People v Malloy, 2016 NY Slip Op 02380, 2nd Dept 3-30-16
CRIMINAL LAW (JUROR SHOULD HAVE BEEN EXCUSED FOR CAUSE, CONVICTION REVERSED)/JURORS (CRIMINAL LAW, JUROR SHOULD HAVE BEEN EXCUSED FOR CAUSE, CONVICTION REVERSED)FOR CAUSE JUROR CHALLENGE (JUROR SHOULD HAVE BEEN EXCUSED FOR CAUSE, CONVICTION REVERSED)