New York State Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Fourth Judicial Department
Juror’s impartiality – Driving while intoxicated
Appealed from Ontario County Court
Background: The defendant appealed from his conviction of driving while ability impaired and aggravated unlicensed operations of a motor vehicle. The conviction arose during a traffic stop when the defendant, who was driving without a valid license with his 7-year-old son in a vehicle containing open containers of alcohol, exhibited signs of being under the influence of alcohol.
Ruling: The Appellate Division reversed. The court held that the court erred in denying his challenge for cause to a prospective juror as the juror’s statements cast doubt on her ability to render an impartial verdict. The juror twice indicated that the mere presence of a child in the vehicle could influence her ability to fairly and impartially evaluate the evidence. She also stated that in the absence of proof of intoxication, the presence of alcoholic beverages would influence her decision-making given that a child was involved.
Caitlin M. Connelly, of the public defender’s office, for the defendant-appellant; V. Christopher Eaggleston, of the district attorney’s office, for the respondent.