March 26, 2014

Juror peremptory challenge opinion filing tomorrow

The Supreme Court tomorrow morning will file its opinion in People v. Black, which was argued in January.  It is the last of the January calendar cases still without an opinion.

The issue in Black is:  Should a conviction be reversed because of the erroneous denial of challenges for cause to prospective jurors when the defendant exhausts his peremptory challenges by removing the jurors, seeks to remove another prospective juror who could not be removed for cause, and is denied additional peremptory challenges, or must the defendant also show that an incompetent or biased juror sat on the jury?

Although it is a criminal case, the Black opinion might impact appeals involving jury selection in civil actions.  For example, although not cited in the parties’ briefs, the court’s decision in the wrongful death case of Buckley v. Chadwick (1955) 45 Cal.2d 183, 201-203, could be affected.  In Buckley, a divided court concluded that error in the peremptory challenge procedure was not reversible because “the appellant ‘has made no affirmative showing, and does not offer to show, that any of the . . . jurors who were actually sworn and served in the trial of the cause were biased, prejudiced, or in any way unfit to serve as trial jurors.’ ”

The Black opinion can be viewed online tomorrow beginning at 10:00 a.m.

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