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Litigation

: The Florida Jury Selection Blog

Can A Potential Juror Be Asked To “Promise” A Verdict?

By Robert W. Kelley, Esq.

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A common technique in voir dire, especially by defense attorneys, is to ask each prospective juror during jury selection whether the juror will “promise” to return a certain kind of verdict (e.g. guilty or not guilty) if it is supported by the evidence. Many trial judges for a variety of reasons will not permit that type of question to be answered. Last month, in the case of Benayer v. State, the Fourth District Court of Appeal implicitly approved that specific voir dire question in a brief opinion dealing with the issue of a jury’s pardon power. In Benayer, the trial judge himself had asked the prospective jurors whether they would “promise” to find the defendant guilty if they were convinced of his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The Defendant objected to the question. The Fourth District reviewed the record and held the question was not error. The Defendant’s conviction was affirmed. This case, while not directly on point, certainly belongs in the trial notebook of any trial lawyer who plans to ask a prospective jury panel for any sort of “promise” during voir dire.

Full post as published by The Florida Jury Selection Blog on August 19, 2010 (boomark / email).

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