Cardenas v. State (2010)

In Cardenas v. State, 325 S.W.3d 179, 186 (Tex. Crim. App. 2010), more than fifty members of the jury panel stated that they could not consider the minimum punishment, and the defense challenged them for cause. Id. at 181. The trial court granted seventeen of the challenges and denied thirty. Id. at 183. During voir dire, the jury pool had been twice apprised of the applicable punishment range before the defense's voir dire, there was no ambiguity or confusion in how the law was explained, and all but two jurors simply answered "yes" or "no" when asked if they could not consider the full punishment range. Id. at 185-86. The court held that absent further questioning by the judge or prosecutor to clarify each juror's stated position, the trial court was required to grant defense's challenges for cause because it was a fair inference that the jurors who did not ask questions or seek further clarification understood what probation was, that probation was an option, and that five years in prison or probation was the minimum available, and anyone who responded "no" to counsel's question as to whether he or she could consider as little as five years in prison and probation as an appropriate punishment had expressed a bias against a phase of the law on which the defense was entitled to rely. Id. at 186.