The First District Court of Appeals in Texas recently decided a DWI case involving challenging whether a prospective juror can sit in judgment during a trial. The case itself was over DWI charges that sent the man accused to jail for one year, and probation for 18 months. The appeals court decided against the man, and he will be forced to serve out his sentence.
This came about after the police saw a man speeding down the highway and allegedly tailgating other drivers. The police pulled the man over and soon smelled a strong odor of alcohol on him. They also testified that the man had bloodshot and glassy eyes. In any traffic stop, if the police smell alcohol, they will begin a DWI investigation and that is what they did here.
After the DWI investigation began, and the police conducted a horizontal gaze nystagmus test. According to the police officer’s testimony the man failed the test and was put under arrest for DWI. Later his breath was tested and he registered a BAC of .015, much higher than the legal limit of .08. As a result of all this, the case went to trial.
Voir Dire and Challenges
Before a jury trial begins, many things have to happen. There are generally motions to be filed, argued, and ruled upon. There are investigations that take place, plea bargains made, and more. Once the day of trial begins, though, a jury is selected. This is known as voir dire.
During voir dire, both sides of a case choose or empanel a jury. Each side has the ability to dismiss potential jurors for different reasons, but lawyers are generally given wide latitude to choose who will serve on the jury from the available pool of potential jurors. That is what happened in this case, only the judge did not allow the defendant to dismiss one of the jurors that he opposed.
The defense wanted to dismiss a juror because during voir dire he made some questionable statements about law enforcement officers and how he would treat their testimony. Despite this position, the judge did not allow defense counsel to dismiss the juror, and the case went to trial. This was one of the main sticking points upon which the case was appealed.
Court of Appeals Ruling
The court of appeals did not think the case was adversely affected by allowing the juror to serve. After citing the relevant law and analyzing it, they concluded that the juror was capable of holding true to the juror oath, and handing down a correct verdict. This case should illustrate to those accused of DWI the uphill battle that a defendant faces when charged with DWI.
If you are facing a DWI charge, there are many elements in place that put you at a disadvantage. Because of this, you need the right legal team behind you, fighting for your rights. At The Wilder DWI Defense Firm, we not only know the law, but we know how to successfully defend those accused of DWI and proven so time and again. If you are charged with DWI, contact us today for a free case evaluation.
(image courtesy of Claire Anderson)