PASADENA, Calif. — A federal appeals case pending in California could determine if trial lawyers should be barred from dismissing potential jurors because they are gay.
From August 5 of 2011, via the Huffington Post: the 9th Circuit Court of appeals has to decide whether the prosecutor properly dismissed a juror because she was lesbian,
The basic case is an assault case: A gay inmate allegedly “hugged” a guard, who allegedly “freaked” tripping himself and the inmate who’s defense is that he wasn’t jumping the guard he just landed on top of him when they both fell.
And at this point I’m having to infer a little…the lesbian was allegedly dismissed because the facts of the case might make he prejudicially inclined towards the defendant. I’m going further out on a limb, b/c I have not read the transcript of the Voir Dire (pronounced by all us lawyers who mangle Latin as “Vwaugh Die-er”) that this happened EITHER: on a “for cause” dismissal b/c you usually don’t get that deep into a juror’s sexuality when you’re kicking off the handful (3-5 depending on the judge) of peremptory strikes of who you want off. *, ** or the judge decided to use the cut to the chase approach where each side submitted proposed questions, everyone argued about what questions got used, the judge ruled and the jurors were given a questionnaire or the judge asked those specific questions.
*peremptory challenges are where you just get to say, “I don’t want Jurors numbered 5, 6 and 28″ and they go. No questions asked. Usually those don’t come up in a “juror dismissal case” unless you can show a “pattern and practice” of discrimination…as in: all the county prosecutors in the last 10months have kicked every Asian American off every trial involving an Asian American defendant. This is a “one shot” case, which is why I feel comfortable inferring certain things.
**Once, I got to do “Rock-Paper- Scissors” with a defense attorney to see who lost one of our 3 peremptory (civil case) dismissals to kick a hard-of-hearing woman off the jury with …not b/c she was hard-of-hearing, but b/c she refused to use the court’s assistance (they’ll bring in sign-language translators, give headphones or other volume enhancing devices to jurors and do ADA up to and including that many courts have “real time” transcript view — the juror gets to see the testimony as the court-reporter transcribes it). She didn’t want “nothin’” about 40 min into the Voir Dire the judge called us to the bench (a side bar conference) and asked which one of us was going to make sure we weren’t going to be hearing, “WHAT? CAN YOU SPEAK UP!” at the top of this woman’s lungs every 15min during a two week jury trial.