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NCJ Number: 162833 Find in a Library
Title: Peremptory Challenge in the Eyes of the Trial Judge
Journal: Judicature  Volume:79  Issue:4  Dated:(January-February 1996)  Pages:185-189
Author(s): C E Smith; R Ochoa
Date Published: 1996
Page Count: 5
Type: Survey
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Despite some critics' calls for reform, a survey of Federal judges found a consensus about the benefits of the peremptory challenge and support for its continuation.
Abstract: The use of peremptory challenges in jury selection, especially in criminal cases, has generated debate about the merits of granting attorneys discretionary authority to dismiss potential jurors. To assess trial judges' views about peremptory challenges, forms were sent to selected judges in each of the 92 district courts in 1995. Federal judges were surveyed because they provide the only national sample of trial judges whose courts are governed by a common set of rules for the allocation of peremptory challenges in criminal cases. When asked about the primary purpose and value of the peremptory challenge, a majority of judges viewed such challenges as a mechanism for attorneys to remove potential jurors biased in favor of the opposition. A majority of judges endorsed the peremptory challenge's role in permitting the identification and exclusion of biased jurors. Although the accuracy of lawyers' assessments in peremptory challenges is not supported by social science research on jury selection, the judges expressed faith in the ability of attorneys to identify accurately jurors' unarticulated prejudices. When asked to identify specific problems in the design and use of peremptory challenges, differences were evident between some Republican appointees and their Democratic counterparts; Republican appointees were more likely to view the unequal number of challenges allotted to each side as creating an unfair advantage for criminal defendants. Conversely, Democratic appointees were more likely to view peremptory challenges as a vehicle for producing discrimination in jury selection and composition. Overall, peremptory challenges enjoy widespread support among trial judges. This article also discusses the impact of eliminating peremptory challenges, implications for reform, and the need for scrutiny of attorneys' behavior in exercising peremptory challenges. 5 tables
Main Term(s): Court procedures
Index Term(s): Judicial attitudes; Jury selection; Peremptory challenges
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