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State v. Andujar

New Jersey Supreme Court

July 13, 2021

The New Jersey Supreme Court issued a monumental ruling regarding implicit bias as well as jury selection and hinted at further changes in the future. During jury selection in a homicide case, a potential juror told the parties that he knew many people accused of crimes, many people who were victims of crime, and used terms┬álike “CDS” that tended to show that he was familiar with the criminal justice system. After the trial court denied the State’s challenge for cause, the prosecutor ran a criminal background check that revealed an open municipal warrant. That warrant did not disqualify the juror, but the prosecutor arranged to have the potential juror arrested the following day. The Supreme Court delved into implicit bias and jury selection before ruling that “any party seeking to run a criminal history check on a prospective juror must present a reasonable, individualized, good-faith basis for the request and obtain permission from the trial judge” and that the results must be shared with all parties. In addition, the Court called for a Judicial Conference on Jury Selection to assess the importance of these issues and recommend improvements.


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