Motion to Strike a Prospective Juror for Cause in Florida

In Brown v. State, 728 So. 2d 758 (Fla. Ct. App. 1999), a Florida appellate court reversed a conviction of a defendant when the trial court refused to grant the defendant's motion to strike for cause. The juror in Brown initially explained that "'a good friend . . . was involved in an attempted murder where somebody tried to shoot him and I haven't really been able to deal with that as far as not having a biased opinion on people involved in armed robbery and cases like that. . . . I don't know - anything about his case but I have really - I have little patience for these types of crimes.'" Id. at 759. When asked by the trial court whether he could set aside his "personal feelings concerning crime or what happened to your friend," and be impartial, the prospective juror said: "'I am not really positive about that, but I guess that I would just have to go through it. I really couldn't say for sure how I would react.'" Id. When asked whether he could follow the court's instruction not to take his friend's experience into consideration and be impartial, he said: "Yeah, I think so." Id. The Florida Court of Appeals held that a trial court's discretion is abused where the court refuses to excuse for cause a prospective juror who responds with equivocal or conditional answers, thus raising a reasonable doubt as to whether the prospect possesses the state of mind necessary to render an impartial decision. Even a cold transcript can reveal equivocal or conditional responses not reflective of a prospect's final detached determination to serve as a fair and impartial juror. A reviewing court may therefore, from time to time, and as to jury equivocations, find itself with a better view than the trial court because of the greater amount of time available to it for rendering decisions. Such is the situation in this case. Id. at 759 .