Motion to Dismiss an Entire Jury Panel in California

A defendant is entitled to a fair trial by a panel of impartial jurors. (In re Hitchings (1993) 6 Cal.4th 97, 110. When a prospective juror makes arguably inflammatory remarks during voir dire, it is within the discretion of the trial court to grant or deny a motion to dismiss an entire jury panel based on comments made by a prospective juror that allegedly exposed the jury panel to bias or prejudice, and we may not reverse that determination unless we can conclude the court abused its discretion (People v. Nguyen (1994) 23 Cal.App.4th 32, 41-42), because "the trial judge is in a better position to gauge the level of bias and prejudice created by juror comments during voir dire." (People v. Martinez (1991) 228 Cal.App.3d 1456, 1466.) Dismissing an entire panel is a "drastic remedy not appropriate as a matter of course merely because a few prospective jurors have made inflammatory remarks. Unquestionably, further investigation and more probing voir dire examination may be called for in such situations, but discharging the entire venire is a remedy that should be reserved for the most serious occasions of demonstrated bias or prejudice, where interrogation and removal of the offending venirepersons would be insufficient protection for the defendant." (People v. Medina (1990) 51 Cal.3d 870, 889.)