Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Challenge for Cause Definition:

A challenge of a prospective juror for which the cause is disclosed by the challenging party (or their lawyer), and submitted to the Court for decision.

Related Terms: Juror, Voir Dire, Peremptory Challenge, Preemptory Challenge

A challenge for cause alleges some reason such as the prospective juror's occupation, opinion on certain issues or personal knowledge of the case which might be unfair for he or she to form part of the jury and asking the judge to excuse the prospective juror from service in the particular trial.

Contrary to a pre-emptory challenge (aka a peremptory challenge), a challenge for cause is not granted as of right but, instead, is given to the judge's for his or her assessment and ultimate decision.

In R v Find, these words were used by Chief Justice McLaughlin of the Supreme Court of Canada:

"To challenge prospective jurors for cause, the appellant must displace the presumption of juror impartiality by showing a realistic potential for partiality. To do this, the appellant must demonstrate the existence of a widespread bias arising from the nature of the charges against him ... that raises a realistic potential for partial juror behaviour despite the safeguards of the trial process ...."

In Morgan v St. Francis Hosiptal, Justice Covello of the Supreme Court of Connecticut wrote:

"At common law, challenges to the suitability of a juror may be either peremptory (without a stated basis) or for cause (for an articulated reason).

"A challenge for cause to an individual juror for bias or prejudice can be either a principal challenge or a challenge to the favor.

"A principal challenge may arise when the connection between the prospective juror and either party is of so close a nature that, when the facts concerning the relationship or interest are proven or when the prospective juror has formed or expressed an opinion on the question at issue, the disqualification is conclusively presumed... Examples of a principal challenge include relationship to either party to the suit, an interest in the outcome of the suit, either personal or as a member of a corporation, or the relation of master or servant to either party. These relationships are held to import absolute bias or favor and require the disqualification of the juror as a matter of law.

"A challenge to the favor, on the other hand, is one where the connection, being more remote, tends to show bias but does not create a conclusive presumption of bias. A challenge to the favor ... is based on facts and circumstances such as would tend to show bias but not such as to create a conclusive presumption of disqualification.

"The decision whether to disqualify a juror for a challenge to the favor lay in the sound discretion of the court."


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