Arizona to end peremptory challenges for potential jurors

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Arizona is poised to be the first state in the country to eliminate the practice of removing potential jurors without a reason. This comes from a state supreme court order released last Friday. We learned more about this ground-breaking legal change from Roy Herrera, an attorney for the law firm Ballard-Spahr.

“A peremptory challenge essentially allows a prosecutor to strike particular jurors from the jury pool without any cause and without stating any particular reason for that person to be eliminated from the pool,” Herrera said.

Was the peremptory challenge process being abused? Herrera said the origins of this process have a “nefarious origin”

“The procedure began quite frankly because prosecutors wanted to eliminate African Americans from the jury pool so there is quite a nefarious origin for this criminal procedure that we have had for a very long time,” Herrera said.

Herrera said there is certainly the potential for discriminatory outcomes with this process regarding race, gender or sexual orientation.

Critics say this makes it more difficult to dismiss jurors that should not be on the case, but Herrera said the process of removing impartial jurors still exists.

“We’ve had this procedure so long, we are so used to doing criminal jury trials this way and getting rid of it is sort of unknown territory but I will say to that we’ve changed criminal procedure over the years in other areas and nothing has sort of melted down,” Herrera said.

 

Roy Herrera, Attorney, Ballard Spahr

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