Brief Fact Summary. Lawsuit involved a question of the disqualification of a juror based on bias or prejudice in a child custody case tried before a jury.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. Bias, the inclination toward one side or another and pre- judgment prejudice, toward any parties or subject matter, are bases for the disqualification of a juror. However, to disqualify, it must appear that the state of mind of the juror leads to the natural inference that they will not or did not act with impartiality.
The appropriate standard of review under Rule 12 (b)(6), Ala. R. Civ. P., is whether, when the allegations of the complaint are viewed most strongly in the pleader's favor, it appears that the pleader could prove any set of circumstances that would entitle the pleader to relief.View Full Point of Law
Issue. Whether the factual bias and prejudice of a juror and her prejudgment of the case could lead to the natural inference that she could not have acted with impartiality.
Held. Yes. The court abused its discretion by refusing to disqualify a juror who was biased and prejudiced during her voire dire questioning. Judgment of the trial court reversed and remanded for a new trial.
Discussion. If under the facts of this case, bias or prejudice was a fact to be determined by the trial court, that fact would be proven clearly through the examination of the record. The record clearly showed that Mrs. Schmidt showed bias and prejudice toward Plaintiff and Plaintiff’s alcoholic consumption during voire dire. When Mrs. Schmidt had answered “yes” to the leading question as to her ability to be impartial, taken in context with the facts of the case, she did not answer the question truthfully.