Liberty and Justice for Y'all brings word of an important new case from the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals (Cardenas v. State), holding that jurors must be excluded if they say they cannot consider the full range of punishments available under the law.
In a case of aggravated sexual assault of a child, a defense attorney asked potential jurors whether they could consider the minimum punishment if the defendant were found guilty, then moved to strike the 50+ people who said they wouldn't consider probation or the minimum confinement period. The judge said "no," seating several of the jurors anyway. But the Second Court of Appeals agreed the jurors were seated improperly and the CCA affirmed, declaring the trial judge abused his discretion: "Jurors must be able to consider both a situation in which the minimum penalty would be appropriate and…a situation in which the maximum penalty would be appropriate," wrote Judge Cochran. "A question committing a juror to consider the minimum punishment is both proper and permissible."
The takeaway, says LJ4Y: "Questions like the one asked in this case should be common for defense attorneys. If a venire member cannot consider the minimum punishment, the trial court should ALWAYS exclude them from the panel. Period."