Prospective Juror Disqualification for ''Bias Against the Law''

In Sunday v. State, 745 S.W.2d 436 (Tex. App.--Beaumont 1988), a prospective juror said she could not consider probation in a murder case unless it was a mercy killing. Id. at 437. The Beaumont Court of Appeals found that the prospective juror was disqualified under article 35.16(c)(2) because she had a bias or prejudice against the law. See Sunday, 745 S.W.2d at 438-39. The court held that by restricting probation to one circumstance, the prospective juror "would create her own statutes concerning minimum punishment for the offense of murder." Id. The court said that "while every person is entitled to hold and express such beliefs, we believe a criminal defendant has the statutory right under article 35.16 to have a jury assess punishment after consideration of the full range of punishment for his offense as prescribed by the legislature." Id. The court recognized if the case involved a mercy killing, the error in overruling the motion to strike for cause would be harmless; but, the case did not involve a mercy killing. Id.