Jurors, disqualifications, excusals for false answers or unwillingness to be impartial — JOSEPH WAYNE ALLEN v. COM. OF KENTUCKY (SC 11/26/2008)

JOSEPH WAYNE ALLEN v. COM. OF KENTUCKY
CRIMINAL:  Jurors, disqualifications,  excusals for false answers or unwillingness to be
impartial
2007-SC-000642-MR.pdf
PUBLISHED: REVERSING
OPINION BY ABRAMSON; SCOTT CONCURS BY SEP. OPINION
JEFFERSON COUNTY
DATE RENDERED: 11/26/2008

SC reversed Allen's convictions for rape and other sexual offenses in Jefferson Circuit Court. TC abused its discretion in failing to strike juror for cause. SC further concluded that upon retrial the jury should be instructed regarding the seventy-year limit on imprisonment imposed by KRS 532.110(1)c). 

Because Juror 39 admitted that he thought he had already formed an opinion in Allen's case, TC's failure to strike him for cause amounted to an abuse of discretion. Juror 39 never specifically stated that he would set his opinion aside and decide the case based on the evidence presented at trial. Although his story may have demonstrated as such, the fact remains that he unequivocally stated that he thought he had already come to a conclusion in this case. Thus, it was unreasonable and an abuse of discretion for the trial court to deny Allen's motion to strike Juror 39 for cause. In Shane v. Commonwealth, SC held that if a trial court abuses its discretion in failing to grant a challenge for cause, and the challenging party uses all of his available peremptory challenges, the trial court's error is grounds for reversal. Although Allen used one of his peremptory challenges to remove Juror 39 from the jury, because Juror 39 should have been struck for cause and because Allen used all of his peremptory challenges, Allen is entitled to a new trial.

Digested by Scott C. Byrd
www.olginandbyrd.com 

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