Tuesday, November 22, 2011

DUI Law - Juror Dating Fellow Prosecutor No Big Whoop Says Texas

In Hammett v. State of Texas, Not Reported in S.W.3d, 2011 WL 5189109 (Tex.App.-El Paso), the defendant was convicted of driving while intoxicated and was sentenced to 180 days in jail, probated for 18 months. On appeal, Hammett asserted that he was denied a fair trial because the foreperson on the jury failed to disclose that she was dating a prosecutor. On appeal, the court affirmed the conviction:

"The record does not establish that the foreperson withheld any information. She truthfully stated both on her questionnaire and during voir dire that she knew a particular prosecutor. The juror questionnaire is not in the record, but there is nothing to indicate that the questionnaire asked specific questions about the nature of a prospective juror's relationship with anyone, and even if it did, counsel still had an obligation to follow-up with oral questions. Hammett's trial counsel chose not to ask about the nature of the foreperson's relationship with the prosecutor. We also note that the venire was sworn in by the judge before voir dire, and we take judicial notice that the oath requires prospective jurors to answer truthfully any questions propounded to them. It does not impose a duty on the prospective jurors to volunteer information."

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