peremptory challenge, sixth amendment, right to a fair trial, individual challenge, jury selection, voir dire


An integral part of the jury selection process is the individual challenge, where a party has the privilege to remove potentially biased jurors. There are two forms of the individual challenge: for cause and peremptory. For cause challenges must be based on a legally provable bias, whereas peremptory challenges may be used to remove jurors who possess a bias peculiar to the immediate case, but whose bias is not articulable in terms of a challenge for cause. Given the vague underpinnings and potential abuses of the peremptory challenge, legislatures enforce a limitation on the number of such challenges a party may make. Nonetheless, peremptory challenges can still lead to systematic dismissals based solely on a juror's affiliation with certain, cognizable groups, such as race, sex, ethnicity, and religion. This action undermines the integrity of the sixth amendment's guarantee that juries will represent a fair cross-section of the community. This Note recommends that courts take greater initiative to question a party's motives when it appears that peremptories have been applied discriminatorily.



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