Wednesday, February 1, 2012

"All Right, Nikki..."

The Wisconsin Supreme Court has reversed its Court of Appeals and held that a criminal defendant convicted of battery on a law enforcement officer and disorderly conduct was not entitled to a new trial because she used a peremptory challenge to keep the judge's daughter-in-law off the jury:

We conclude that because the defendant exercised a peremptory strike to remove the circuit court judge's daughter-in-law from the jury, and because the defendant does not claim the jury was unfair or partial, a new trial is not required under the circumstances of the present case. The defendant has not shown that the presence of the challenged juror in the pool of potential jurors affected the defendant's substantial rights.  Accordingly, we reverse the decision of the court of appeals ordering a new trial.

The voir dire of the potential juror is recounted in the opinion:

THE COURT:  All right.  Nikki, you're my daughter-in-law.  All right.  I've told the attorneys that you and I have had no discussions about the case, correct?

JUROR STENGEL:  Correct.

THE COURT:  As a matter of fact, I didn't know until last night that you were coming in as a juror in this matter, right?

JUROR STENGEL:  Correct.

THE COURT:  Very good.  You didn't ask and I wouldn't have excused you anyways so.  But you're competent, you can be fair and impartial?

JUROR STENGEL:  Uh-huh.

THE COURT:  The fact that I'm the judge wouldn't affect your ability in this matter at all?

JUROR STENGEL:  No.

THE COURT:  Listen to all the evidence and decide the case, correct?

JUROR STENGEL:  Correct.

THE COURT:  And if we see you after the case, you wouldn't be at all hesitant as to how you decide the case, right?

JUROR STENGEL:  Correct.

THE COURT:  Very good.  And I have told the lawyers about this, so they understand that as well.

The case was remanded to explore claims of ineffective assistance of counsel.The defense counsel had not challenged for cause.(Mike Frisch)

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/legal_profession/2012/02/the-wisconsin-supreme-court-has-reversed-its-court-of-appeals-and-held-that-a-criminal-defendant-convicted-of-battery-on-a-po.html

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