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Name: People v. Szymanski
Case #: G028675
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 05/30/2003
Subsequent History: None

During voir dire in appellant’s trial for controlled substance violations, after all of appellant’s peremptory challenges had been exercised, both sides challenged Juror No. 13 for cause. The juror had limited English language skills, admitted to not understanding terms such as “law enforcement,” and stated that she didn’t think it would be fair to make a judgment when she did not understand what the lawyers were talking about. The court attempted to rehabilitate the juror by getting her to agree to ask the lawyers to slow down when necessary. The appellate court here reversed appellant’s conviction. Distinguishing this case from an “old moldy” one cited by the Attorney General, the court held that Juror No. 13 did not understand, did not want to understand, and thought it would be unfair for her to make a judgment given her limited English skills. The trial court abused its discretion when it denied the challenge for cause. Szymanski was denied the right to have a trial before a qualified jury.