The First Department, reversing defendant’s conviction, determined the for cause challenge to a jury should have been granted. The juror exhibited a bias in favor of the credibility of police officers:
The court should have granted defendant’s challenge for cause to a prospective juror, a police officer who stated on voir dire that he believed that the testimony of police witnesses would be accurate, except insofar as they were relaying inaccurate information provided by a victim or other witness. Pressed by defense counsel on whether he thought it was possible for a police witness to lie, exaggerate, or be mistaken, the prospective juror allowed that there was “a little room” for this and stated that he “suppose[d]” it was possible.
“[A] prospective juror whose statements raise a serious doubt regarding the ability to be impartial must be excused unless the juror states unequivocally on the record that he or she can be fair and impartial” … . Bias expressed by a prospective juror is purged only when, in response to additional inquiry, the juror is able to “voice with conviction” that he or she will be able to render an impartial verdict based solely on the evidence and the court’s instructions … . The link between the biased state of mind previously indicated by the prospective juror’s statements and the assurance of the ability to render an impartial verdict “must be evident” … . “Where there remains any doubt in the wake of such statements, . . . the prospective jurors should be discharged for cause” … .
The panelist clearly showed a predisposition to believe that police officers testify truthfully … . Viewed as a whole, his responses to followup questions did not “expressly state that his prior state of mind . . . [would] not influence his verdict” … . People v Whitefield, 2017 NY Slip Op 06618, First Dept 9-26-17
CRIMINAL LAW (FOR CAUSE CHALLENGE TO JUROR WHO EXPRESSED BIAS IN FAVOR OF THE CREDIBILITY OF POLICE OFFICERS SHOULD HAVE BEEN GRANTED (FIRST DEPT))/JURORS (CRIMINAL LAW, FOR CAUSE CHALLENGE TO JUROR WHO EXPRESSED BIAS IN FAVOR OF THE CREDIBILITY OF POLICE OFFICERS SHOULD HAVE BEEN GRANTED (FIRST DEPT))/FOR CAUSE JUROR CHALLENGE (FOR CAUSE CHALLENGE TO JUROR WHO EXPRESSED BIAS IN FAVOR OF THE CREDIBILITY OF POLICE OFFICERS SHOULD HAVE BEEN GRANTED (FIRST DEPT))