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State v. Garnder

Supreme Court of North Dakota

August 17, 2016

State of North Dakota, Plaintiff and Appellee
v.
Alfred Rayshan Garnder, Defendant and Appellant

         Appeal from the District Court of Mountrail County, North Central Judicial District, the Honorable Richard L. Hagar, Judge.

          Amber J. Fiesel, Assistant State's Attorney, for plaintiff and appellee; submitted on brief.

          Laura C. Ringsak, for defendant and appellant; submitted on brief.

          OPINION

          Sandstrom, Justice.

         [¶ 1] Alfred Garnder appeals a criminal judgment entered after a jury found him guilty of driving under the influence of alcohol and driving with a suspended license. On appeal, he argues the district court should not have denied his challenges of the prospective jurors for cause. He also claims that by using a peremptory challenge against one of the jurors, the assistant state's attorney engaged in racial discrimination during jury selection. Because the district court properly denied Garnder's challenges, we affirm the district court judgment.

         I

         [¶ 2] Garnder was arrested for driving under the influence and driving with a suspended license. His attorney challenged two of the potential jurors for cause because of their previous professional relationships with the state's attorney as well as the assistant state's attorney who was prosecuting the case. The district court denied the attorney's challenges for cause, finding there was no reason to believe the two jurors would be unable to be fair and impartial. Garnder's attorney also challenged the use of the State's peremptory challenge of one of the jurors, because she was one of the few minorities on the jury panel. The district court disagreed, finding the State had significant and clear reasons for using its peremptory challenge. After a trial, the jury found Garnder guilty of driving under the influence and driving with a suspended license.

         [¶ 3] The district court had jurisdiction under N.D. Const. art. VI, § 8, and N.D.C.C. § 27-05-06. Garnder timely appealed under N.D.R.App.P. 4(b). This Court has jurisdiction under N.D. Const. art. VI, §§ 2 and 6, and N.D.C.C. § 29-28-06.

         II

         [¶ 4] On appeal, Garnder argues the district court should not have denied his challenges of the prospective jurors for cause.

         [¶ 5] "Persons accused of crimes have a right... to a trial by an impartial jury." State v. Smaage, 547 N.W.2d 916, 919 (N.D. 1996). In State v. Fredericks, 507 N.W.2d 61, 64 - 65 (N.D. 1993), we explained:

A criminal defendant's right to an impartial jury trial under the Sixth Amendment requires the selection of the jury from a representative cross section of the community. Taylor v. Louisiana, 419 U.S. 522, 95 S.Ct. 692 (1975). The Fourteenth Amendment makes the provisions of the Sixth Amendment binding upon the states. Duncan v. Louisiana, 391 U.S. 145, 88 S.Ct. 1444 (1968). Although the North Dakota Constitution's guarantee of the right to a jury trial does not explicitly require an impartial jury, see N.D. Const. art. I, § 13, we would read the Sixth Amendment's impartiality and fair-cross-section requirements into our state constitution.

         "In determining whether a defendant was deprived of a fair and impartial jury, the court will not readily discount the assurances of a juror as to his impartiality." State v. Olson, 274 N.W.2d 190, 193 (N.D. 1978). "It remains open to the defendant to demonstrate the actual existence of such an opinion in the mind of the juror to overcome a presumption of impartiality and raise a presumption of partiality." Id.

         [¶ 6] A trial judge must excuse a juror if the judge "finds grounds for challenge for cause." N.D.R.Crim.P. 24(b)(1)(A). A juror can be excused on the basis of either actual or implied bias. N.D.C.C. § 29-17-35. Implied bias is based on "any of the enumerated causes found in § 29-17-36, N.D.C.C." State v. McLain, 301 N.W.2d 616, 622 (N.D. 1981). Actual bias is defined as "[t]he existence of a state of mind on the part of the juror, with reference to the case or to either party, which satisfies the court, in the exercise of a sound discretion, that the juror cannot try the issue impartially without prejudice to the substantial rights of the party challenging, and which is known in this title as actual bias." ...


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