In addition to the effective assistance of counsel from a Massachusetts criminal defense attorney, a person who is criminally accused also has the right to a fair and impartial jury in a criminal proceeding. This sounds like an easy enough proposition, but there can be many issues that go into the determination of exactly what constitutes “fair” and “impartial” jurors in a given case.
Facts of the Case
In a recent criminal case considered on direct review by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, the defendant was charged with possession of an illegal substance with intent to distribute. During voir dire, a prospective juror stated that she believed that “the system is rigged” against individuals of the defendant’s general age, gender, and race. That juror was excused for cause by the trial court judge, and the case was tried to a jury that did not include that particular juror.
After being convicted, the defendant sought appellate review of his case, arguing that the trial court judge had abused his discretion in dismissing the prospective juror who had expressed her opinion about the legal system being “rigged.” The supreme judicial court granted an application for direct appellate review.