Judge Nina Ashenafi Richardson Inns of Court Team Presentation Januray 17, 2013 General Reference on Jury Selection in Florida




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Judge Nina Ashenafi Richardson Inns of Court Team Presentation

Januray 17, 2013

General Reference on Jury Selection in Florida
Landmark Florida Case on Jury Selection: Singer v. State, 109 So. 2d 7 (Fla. 1959), foundational case of all jury selection law in the State of Florida.

Seminal case that provides procedures to be followed by parties and the court in assessing whether a peremptory challenge is being used in an improper, discriminatory fashion: Melbourne v. State, 679 So.2d 759, 764 (Fla. 1996).

Back striking is allowed any time prior to the time the juror is sworn. See Fla. R. Crim. P. Rule 3.310. Denial of right to use back strike prior to jury being sworn is per se reversible error. See, Preacher v. Cohn, 786 So.2d 1282 (Fla. 5th DCA 2001).

Florida Circuit & County Civil Cases
Six (6) qualified jurors shall try circuit or county civil cases. In addition, one alternate is typically selected.
Authority: Section 69.071, Florida Statutes.
Peremptory Challenges: Each party shall be entitled to 3 peremptory challenges plus 1 peremptory challenge in the selection of the alternate. See Fla. R. Civ. P. Rule 1.431, sections (d) and (g) which provides the number and calculation for peremptory challenges. If the number of parties is unequal, the opposing is entitled to the same aggregate. So, for instance, if there were 3 co-plaintiffs and 4 co-defendants, then each side would be allocated 12 peremptory challenges. If the judge determined that 1 alternate juror would be selected, each side would get 4 additional strikes to use only on alternate jurors.
Challenges for Cause: No cap but party must state grounds with specificity. Court determines validity. Section 913.03, Florida Statutes, sets forth the grounds for challenge to individual jurors for cause.
Melbourne applies in civil cases. See, Michelin North America v. Lovett, 731 So.2d 736 (Fla. 4th DCA 1999).
Florida Felony & Misdemeanor Cases
Six (6) jurors shall try felony and misdemeanor cases. In addition, one alternate is typically selected.
Authority: Section 913.10, Florida Statutes and Fla. R. Crim. P. 3.270. Jury Selection in Florida is governed by Rules 3.280-3.350, Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure.
Case Authority: The U.S. Supreme Court held in Williams v. Florida, 399 U.S. 78 (1970) that a 6-member criminal jury is sufficient under the Sixth Amendment.
Peremptory Challenges: For Felonies NOT punishable by death or life imprisonment, and all misdemeanors, each party shall be entitled to three (3) peremptory challenges plus 1 peremptory challenge for each alternate. The trial judge may exercise discretion to allow additional peremptory challenges when appropriate. See, Fla. R. Crim. P. 3.350.
Challenges for Cause: No cap but party must state grounds with specificity. Court determines validity. Section 913.03, Florida Statutes, sets forth the grounds for challenge

to individual jurors for cause. A challenge for cause is appropriate when a potential juror exhibits either inferred bias or actual bias. See Florida Statutes 913.03 for a statutorily created list of qualifications that exhibit an inferred bias.



Capital Cases
12 jurors shall try capital cases.
Authority: Section 913.10, Florida Statutes and Fla. R. Crim. P. 3.270
Peremptory Challenges: For Felonies punishable by Death or Imprisonment for Life, each party shall be entitled to ten (10) peremptory challenges, plus 1 peremptory challenge for each alternate juror. The trial judge may exercise discretion to allow additional peremptory challenges when appropriate. See, Fla. R. Crim. P. 3.350.
Challenges for Cause: No cap but party must state grounds with specificity. Court determines validity. Section 913.03, Florida Statutes, sets forth the grounds for challenge to individual jurors for cause.
Eminent Domain Cases
12 jurors shall try eminent domain cases.
Authority: Section 73.071, Florida Statutes.
Peremptory Challenges: Each party shall be entitled to three (3) peremptory challenges plus 1 peremptory challenge in the selection of the alternate. See Fla. R. Civ. P. Rule 1.431, sections (d) and (g) which provides the number and calculation for peremptory challenges.

Case law on peremptory challenges: In Kopsho v. State, 959 So. 2d 168 (Fla 2007), the Supreme Court of Florida reversed a jury verdict in a case where counsel was forced to use a peremptory strike during jury selection on a juror who should have been stricken for cause. The jury verdict was reversed even though it was undisputed on appeal that the jury that ultimately decided the case was a “constitutionally impartial” jury. The Supreme Court held it is prejudice “per se” to require counsel to use even a single peremptory strike on a prospective juror if there was a “reasonable doubt” about that juror’s impartiality. No showing of “actual prejudice” was required on appeal. This case points out the importance of peremptory strikes and demonstrates the unique position they have in jury selection in Florida. The purpose of peremptory challenges is different than the purpose of challenges for cause.

In Florida, a juror may be stricken for cause by the Court if the juror is legally objectionable. Peremptory strikes are different. They are discretionary strikes for counsel. They can be used by counsel to remove potential jurors who are NOT otherwise legally objectionable.

The Kopsho case demonstrates that forcing counsel to use even one discretionary peremptory strike on such a juror is reversible error, EVEN if the jury that ultimately decides the case is an impartial jury. It is prejudice “per se” to require counsel to use a peremptory strike on a juror if there was a reasonable doubt about that juror’s impartiality. On appeal, in Florida, it is not necessary to show that there was “actual prejudice” or that the jury that returned the verdict was somehow biased.



Sample Juror Voir Dire Questionnaires:
See, Form 1.984, Florida Rules of Civil Procedure.
See, Form 3.9855, Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure, as adopted by the Florida Supreme Court





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