CHALLENGING A JURY ARRAY
A jury array is a list of jurors who are summoned to appear for jury duty. Jurors for a particular trial are selected from the jury array. A defendant is entitled to challenge the jury array. The defendant usually discovers flaws in the jury selection process during voir dire or questioning of the jurors. Grounds for challenging the jury array include corrupt summoning of the jurors, violation of the jury law, discriminatory selection of the jurors, or discrimination regarding exemptions for the jurors.
If a court officer has willfully summoned jurors in such a manner as to convict or to acquit a defendant, the defendant may challenge his or her jury array. This challenge is based on the court officer's misconduct. If the court officer summons jurors who are police officers, prosecution employees, or court employees, the officer's summoning of the jury array is corrupt.
A challenge to a jury array for violation of the jury law is based on granting of excuses for jurors without reasonable cause or without reason. The jury array may also be challenged if a court officer who excused the jurors was not authorized by law to excuse the jurors. Although court officers are authorized to exclude names of persons who are not qualified to be jurors, the officers cannot withhold names of potential jurors who are qualified.
If a court officer's selection of jurors for a jury array results in the systematic exclusion of a constitutionally protected class of persons, a defendant may challenge the jury array. Jurors may not be excluded from the jury array based on their economic, social, religious, racial, political, or geographic group. Constitutionally protected classes with these groups include African-Americans, Mexican-Americans, and women. Even if the defendant is not a member of a constitutionally protected class, the defendant may challenge his or her jury array because the defendant is entitled to a representative cross-section of his or her community in his or her jury.
A defendant may also challenge a jury array if a constitutionally protected class is underrepresented on voter registration lists. The voter registration lists must represent a cross-section of the population in order for them to be used for the jury array. If the voter registration lists contain a disproportionately low number of persons from a constitutionally protected class, the lists are deemed to be discriminatory. However, the defendant must prove that there was actual discrimination in the voter registration process.
A defendant may further challenge a jury array if exemptions that were granted to potential jurors were discriminatory. In other words, the exemptions were applied in order to exclude certain groups or constitutionally protected classes. The defendant has the burden of proving that the exemptions were unreasonable.
A defendant challenges a jury array by filing a motion to quash the jury array. The motion is usually required to be in writing and to be accompanied by an affidavit. If the defendant fails to file a proper motion, the defendant is deemed to have waived any error with regard to the jury array. The motion should be made before potential jurors are questioned by the prosecution or the defense. If the defendant does not discover a flaw in the jury array until voir dire or questioning of the jurors, the defendant may file an oral motion that challenges the jury array.
If a defendant's motion to challenge a jury array is sustained, the jury array will be discharged. A court officer is then required to summon a new jury array. If the defendant's challenge involved the officer's corrupt summoning of the jury array, another court officer must summon the new jury array.
Copyright 2012 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.