challenge for cause | Definition

Doc's CJ Glossary by Adam J. McKee
Course: Introduction

A challenge for cause is a type of challenge used in the voir dire process that excludes a potential juror for a stated reason that is allowed by law.

A challenge for cause is a legal process used during voir dire, which allows a potential juror to be excluded from serving on a jury for specific reasons permitted by law. This process is designed to ensure a fair and impartial jury, free from any bias or prejudice that may influence the outcome of a trial.

During the voir dire process, which is the process of selecting a jury, both the prosecution and the defense have the opportunity to question potential jurors to determine their qualifications and potential biases. A challenge for cause allows either side to request that a potential juror be removed from the jury pool for a specific reason.

There are several reasons that may be used to challenge a potential juror for cause, including but not limited to a personal relationship with a party or witness, a prior criminal conviction, a bias or prejudice against a party or issue, or a conflict of interest that may affect their ability to be impartial. These reasons must be stated clearly and allowed by law in order for a potential juror to be excluded.

Unlike a peremptory challenge, which allows either side to exclude a potential juror without stating a reason, a challenge for cause must be supported by specific evidence or reasons that are allowed by law. This process is intended to prevent the misuse of challenges and ensure that jurors are selected based on their qualifications and ability to be fair and impartial.

It is important to note that challenges for cause are subject to review by the judge, who will determine whether the reason for the challenge is sufficient and allowed by law. If the judge determines that the challenge is valid, the potential juror will be excluded from the jury pool. If the judge determines that the challenge is not valid, the potential juror will remain in the jury pool and may be subject to further questioning by either the prosecution or the defense.

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Last Modified: 04/18/2023

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