In the supreme court of california


B. Denial of Additional Peremptory Challenges



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B. Denial of Additional Peremptory Challenges


Defendant contends the court erred in denying his request for additional peremptory challenges after he exhausted his statutory allotment of challenges.3 We disagree. “[T]o establish the constitutional entitlement to additional peremptory challenges argued for here, a criminal defendant must show at the very least that in the absence of such additional challenges he is reasonably likely to receive an unfair trial before a partial jury.” (People v. Bonin (1988) 46 Cal.3d 659, 679.) As discussed above regarding defendant’s change of venue contention, he has failed to make this showing.

In this appeal, defendant asserts that when defense counsel requested the additional peremptory challenges, she said “she wished to excuse six jurors she believed could not be fair and impartial in light of (1) their exposure to the inflammatory publicity, (2) their personal identification with the victim and her mother, and/or (3) their sympathy with close friends and relatives who had been victims of sexual assaults, even though they might not be excusable for cause.” The record does not support the assertion. When defense counsel requested additional challenges, the court specifically asked which jurors she wanted to challenge and why she wanted to challenge them. After providing the jurors’ numbers, counsel said, “All have varying degrees of exposure to publicity. Some of them had more information in the questionnaires than the court gave them.” When the court asked if that was the only reason, counsel responded that it was.

As discussed above, the six jurors in question professed to have had very little exposure to publicity and stated that they had formed no opinion regarding the case. The trial court assessed their states of mind, finding that they were able to render a fair verdict. Because the questionnaire responses by these jurors, and their answers on voir dire, comprise substantial evidence supporting the trial court’s rulings regarding their impartiality, we defer to the trial court’s conclusion that the six identified prospective jurors could be fair and impartial. The mere fact that defendant wished to peremptorily challenge those jurors does not establish that any of them were biased. (See Skilling, supra, 561 U.S. at p. __ [130 S.Ct. at pp. 2924-2925] [reaching a similar conclusion regarding the defendant’s similar objection to six specific jurors that he had wanted to challenge peremptorily].) Under the circumstances, defendant has not demonstrated that additional peremptory challenges were necessary to secure his right to a fair trial. No violation of his constitutional rights is apparent.




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