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Hamer v. United States

    Brief Fact Summary. Defendant brought this appeal after she was denied the right to participate in various steps of jury selection.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law. It is not unconstitutional to deprive a defendant from participation in every step of voir dire.

    Facts. Defendant, Hamer, appealed after being convicted on narcotics charges. In her appeal she argued that she was denied the right to a jury trial for three reasons: (1) she was denied a list of names and addresses of prospective jurors in advance of trial; (2) her counsel was not allowed to question prospective jurors directly during the voir dire examination; and (3) the prosecutor, at the voir dire, used a jury book setting out how prospective jurors acted or voted while on previous juries.

    Issue. Whether a defendant can claim she was unconstitutionally deprived to her right of trial by jury when she is unable to participate in the entire jury selection process.

    Held. Affirmed. There is no constitutional right to a personal voir dire of the jury.

    Discussion. This case is actually only an excerpt of an opinion; however, the author’s intent was to show that there is no congressionally-mandated right to jury examination. As long as the voir dire transcript does not show judicial prejudice, the judge may keep a defendant from questioning a jury, allow jury books, and determine how the jurors are selected at his own determination.


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