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Letters: Dismissing a juror without cause

September 26, 2013

Re "Fairness for the jury pool," Editorial, Sept. 20

I am a lawyer who respectfully disagrees with your support for abolishing peremptory challenges. These challenges remain necessary to assure that people who are likely biased can be excused as jurors.

A recent example: In a personal injury case, five of the first 12 prospective jurors emphatically stated their belief that an injured plaintiff should recover little or no money for pain and suffering. In response to questions from the judge, all five said they could put these attitudes aside and award such damages if the facts and law supported recovery.

With these answers, the five could not be excused for cause. But the plaintiff's lawyer did exactly what he should have done, excusing them with peremptory challenges.

Similar situations arise in most jury trials, where jurors' attitudes suggest that they may not be able to fairly consider the case but they cannot be excused for cause.

Robert C. Wright

San Diego

I was heartened by your endorsement of Supreme Court Justice Stephen G. Breyer's call for abolishing peremptory jury challenges. Allowing these has led to an industry solely devoted to assisting attorneys in selecting jurors most likely to bring a favorable verdict. A jury of our peers implies an impartial jury, while the goal of jury selection advisors is to subvert that.

Juries should consist of the first 12 able-bodied individuals called who are not disqualified for cause. Anything else raises the doubt of a fair trial.

Glenn Egelko



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