Breeden v. Commonwealth

In Breeden v. Commonwealth, 217 Va. 297, 300, 227 S.E.2d 734, 737 (1976), the defendant sought to strike a prospective juror for cause, who, during voir dire, stated that she had read about the crime in the newspaper and "was glad that person was caught." She also stated that she held the view that the defendant would have to prove his innocence. After stating those views, the Commonwealth's Attorney attempted to rehabilitate the juror, asking if she could follow the court's instructions in applying the facts to the law and follow the court's instructions regarding the presumption of innocence. She stated, "Yes sir." In holding that the trial court erred in seating the prospective juror, the Virginia Supreme Court noted that it was not "concerned with a possible misapprehension of law," stating that "jurors are not expected to be learned in legal maxims." Rather, the Court, considering the voir dire of the prospective juror in its entirety, found that "her response to that crucial question was not so much a symptom of her ignorance of the law as a candid reflection of the state of mind concerning the defendant's guilt."