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Name: People v. Cottle
Case #: C043594
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 06/08/2004
Subsequent History: Rev. granted 9/22/04: S126550
Summary

Appellant was convicted of four counts of assault with a deadly weapon following a jury trial. On appeal, he argued that the trial court erred in refusing to allow him to reopen jury selection to exercise one of his two remaining peremptory challenges against Juror No. 12 after the original 12 jurors were sworn, but before the alternate jurors were sworn. Appellant made the motion after Juror No. 12, on his own initiative, provided new information to the court about his beliefs in his ability to be fair and unbiased. The trial court denied the motion because the jury had been sworn. The appellate court held tht jury selection is not complete until the alternate jurors have been sworn, and the improper denial of a request to reopen jury selection before that time is reversible error. While Juror No. 12 ultimately agreed he could be fair and impartial, what he brought to the court’s attention was material to the exercise of peremptory challenges. Appellant was unable to exercise his right to peremptory challenges until the new information came to light. The trial court’s refusal to let appellant reopen was an abuse of discretion.The trial court forced a juror who was unacceptable to the defendant upon him in violation of his right to challenge that juror. A harmless error analysis is inapplicable here, and reversal was required.