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Name: People v. Aranda (2023) 95 Cal.App.5th 311
Case #: G061394
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 09/07/2023

Code of Civil Procedure section 231.7, which provides that a juror’s general distrust of police officers is a presumptively invalid reason to exercise a peremptory challenge, does not apply to challenges for cause against prospective jurors. Aranda was charged with possession of a controlled substance in a correctional facility. During jury selection, the People exercised a challenge for cause against a prospective juror who admitted she would hold police officers to a higher standard of credibility than other witnesses. The trial court overruled Aranda’s objection and excused the juror. Aranda was convicted and appealed, arguing that the People’s challenge was based a presumptively invalid reason. Held: Affirmed. The language of section 231.7 is clear: it applies only to peremptory challenges, not challenges for cause. Section 231.7 provides that a peremptory challenge based on a prospective juror’s “[e]xpressing a distrust of or having a negative experience with law enforcement or the criminal legal system” is rebuttably presumed to be invalid. The statute’s only mention of challenges for cause is that enactment of the section shall not “lower the standard for judging challenges for cause or expand use of challenges for cause.” The court concluded it need not refer to the legislative history of the statute, as the court could not construct section 231.7 in a way that conflicts with its plain language.