What is a peremptory challenge in a civil lawsuit in New York, involving a personal injury case?
Before your case goes to trial, lawyers of both the sides, have the task of picking a jury. This procedure takes place whenever there is a jury trial for an accident case, medical malpractice lawsuit, or even a wrongful death case. During the selection procedure, each attorney will have the opportunity to excuse a certain number of jurors. This will also depend on how many lawyers are involved.
There will be the plaintiff's attorney, who is representing the injured victim, and then there will be at least one defense attorney or more. Usually, the defense will be represented by multiple attorneys. In the jury selection process, each attorney will have three challenges, which are known as peremptory challenges.
What is a Peremptory Challenge?
Peremptory challenges means the lawyer will have three opportunities to excuse any potential juror without giving any reason whatsoever. The lawyer does not have to disclose any reason, and he can excuse the juror because he does not like the person, does not like the answers the juror gives to his questions, or for any other reason. The lawyer does not have to give the court any explanation for excusing the juror, and he simply has to say that he is exercising his right of a peremptory challenge.
What happens when a Lawyer has Exhausted his Three Peremptory Challenges
The lawyer will mention the number of the jurors, he wants excused. The judge will excuse those prospective jurors, and their seats will be filled by other people in the room.
However, what happens when the lawyer has used up all his peremptory challenges, and is confronted with a juror that he does not want as a member of the jury who is going to pass a verdict on the case. If the attorneys have used up all their peremptory challenges then now they have to give a valid reason or excuse, to explain why the particular juror is not right to sit on this particular case.
Therefore, a peremptory challenge is a right that is given to each attorney who participates in jury selection. In New York, it is typically three opportunities for making the challenge, per lawyer. Once a lawyer has exhausted these three opportunities, and if there is still a prospect juror he does not want on the jury, the lawyer will have to provide specific reasons to the judge for excusing the particular juror.
The judge will then have to decide whether the lawyer has given a valid reason, and based on that the judge can rule if the juror should be excused. There are many valid reasons for a juror to be excused. During the selection process, the lawyers ask questions to the potential jurors to find out if they have any prejudices or have strong opinions that are connected to the case in any way. If the lawyer finds such things in a juror through his questions then he can present that to the judge as a valid reason.
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