Philadelphia Criminal Lawyer Update: PA Superior Court Rules Trial Court’s Refusal to Strike Juror Who Was Former Member of Law Enforcement Permissible

by | Feb 24, 2014

The case is Commonwealth v. Hale, ___ A.3d ___, 2014 Pa. Super. 19 (Feb. 6, 2014).  The court began by stating that ‘challenges for cause should be granted: (1) when the potential juror has such a close relationship, be it familial, financial or situational, with parties, counsel, victims, or witnesses, that the court will presume the likelihood of prejudice; and (2) when the potential juror’s likelihood of prejudice is exhibited by his conduct and answers to questions at [v]oir dire.’  In addition, when it comes to a law enforcement official, that official must have some real relationship to the case, such as being on the same police force as testifying officers, in order for a trial court to be deemed to have abused its discretion in refusing to strike a law enforcement official.  In Hale, the prospective juror was a school police officer, and retired as a detective with the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office, so there was no real relationship with the case.  In addition, the defense did not allege that police officer credibility would be at issue at trial.  Thus, the trial court’s refusal to strike this prospective juror for cause was not an abuse of discretion.  You can read a PDF of the case here.

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