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California DUI Trials and Jury Selection Process

Napa Valley dui lawyer

Jury Selection for DUI Trials in Marin County, CA

The judge initially examines the prospective jurors by statute but also grants attorneys in criminal cases the right to conduct their own oral questioning of them. CCP §223. Thus, although time limitations can be placed on the defense attorney, the trial court cannot completely bar attorneys from conducting jury examination.

Effective jury selection is crucial in any criminal trial and unreasonable restrictions by the trial court should be challenged.

Challenges for cause are of two types. The first is to the entire jury panel and then challenges for cause to individual jurors. These challenges include challenges for (1) general disqualification, (2) implied bias, or (3) actual bias. CCP §225(b)(1). General disqualification includes jurors who are not citizens, residents of the jurisdiction where they have been summoned, under 18-years-old, or are not possessed of sufficient knowledge of the English language. CCP §203. Challenges for implied bias are set forth in CCP §229. These challenges include being within the fourth degree of consanguinity to any party or witness in the case or having stood within one year previous to the filing of the complaint in the relationship of attorney and client with either an attorney or party in the case.

The final challenge for cause is for actual bias. Note that this is slightly different than the state of mind required for a challenge for implied bias for evincing enmity. Actual bias is defined as “the existence of a state of mind on the part of the juror in reference to the case, or to any of the parties, which will prevent the juror from acting with entire impartiality, and without prejudice to the substantial rights of any party” CCP §225(b)(C).

Challenges for cause must be exercised prior to peremptory challenges. CCP §226(c). Challenges for cause to individual jurors are first made by the defense. CCP §226(d).

It used to be that each side was given 10 peremptory challenges in both felony and misdemeanor cases, but as of January 1, 2017, each side in a misdemeanor DUI trial is only entitled to 6 peremptory challenges. CCP § 231(b) (any offense where the maximum punishment is one year or less). The challenges are exercised alternately with the state going first. CCP §231(d). When both sides pass consecutively, the jury is sworn. CCP §231(d). Subject to rules prohibiting certain types of discrimination, attorneys on both sides are free to exercise a peremptory challenge for any reason or no reason at all.

Picking a jury is akin to a chess game and much of it is based on instinct. Skilled defense attorneys use the process as an opportunity to educate the jury about possible defenses, weed out jurors who may have cynical attitudes toward defendants and lawyers, and in DUI trials, avoiding jurors who have strong views against drinking and driving regardless of impairment.

SELECTING APPROPRIATE JURORS FOR A DUI TRIAL REQUIRES TRIAL EXPERIENCE. PAUL BURGLIN HAS TRIED MORE THAN 120 CASES TO JURY TRIAL IN HIS CAREER.

CALL PAUL BURGLIN NOW AT (415) 729-7300

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