State v. Frederiksen – Case Brief Summary (Washington)

In State v. Frederiksen, 40 Wn. App. 749, 700 P.2d 369 (Wash. Ct. App.), review denied, 104 Wn.2d 1013 (1985), the appellant was convicted of second degree assault while armed with a deadly weapon and a firearm. Id. at 371.

On appeal, he contended, inter alia , that the trial court erred in rejecting his proposed voir dire questions regarding the prospective jurors' attitudes toward self-defense. Id. at 370.

The appellate court disagreed and affirmed the conviction. Id. at 374.

The Fredericksen Court concluded that "self-defense in general did not fall within any of the three classes raising a real possibility of bias." Id. at 372.

But, it recognized three situations requiring "specific voir dire questions because of a real possibility of prejudice." Id.

These are:

(1) when the case carries racial overtones; (2) when the case involves other matters (e.g., the insanity defense) concerning which either the local community or the population at large is commonly known to harbor strong feelings that may stop short of presumptive bias in law yet significantly skew deliberations in fact; and (3) when the case involves other forms of bias and distorting influence which have become evident through experience with juries (e.g., the tendency to overvalue official government agents' testimony. Id.