Morgan v. Illinois, 504 U.S. 719, 15 (1992)

Page:   Index   Previous  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  20  21  22  Next

Cite as: 504 U. S. 719 (1992)

Opinion of the Court

ance with their instructions or their oaths." 469 U. S., at 424, n. 5; see also Lockett v. Ohio, 438 U. S. 586, 595-596 (1978). Indeed, in Lockhart v. McCree we thereafter spoke in terms of " 'Witherspoon-excludables' " whose removal for cause "serves the State's entirely proper interest in obtaining a single jury that could impartially decide all of the issues in [a capital] case." 476 U. S., at 180. From Witt, moreover, it was but a very short step to observe as well in Lockhart:

"[T]he State may challenge for cause prospective jurors whose opposition to the death penalty is so strong that it would prevent them from impartially determining a capital defendant's guilt or innocence. Ipso facto, the State must be given the opportunity to identify such prospective jurors by questioning them at voir dire about their views of the death penalty." 476 U. S., at 170, n. 7.

This passage in Lockhart expanded but briefly upon what we had already recognized in Witt: "As with any other trial situation where an adversary wishes to exclude a juror because of bias, then, it is the adversary seeking exclusion who must demonstrate, through questioning, that the potential juror lacks impartiality. It is then the trial judge's duty to determine whether the challenge is proper." 469 U. S., at 423 (citation omitted; emphasis added).

We deal here with petitioner's ability to exercise intelligently his complementary challenge for cause against those biased persons on the venire who as jurors would unwaveringly impose death after a finding of guilt. Were voir dire not available to lay bare the foundation of petitioner's challenge for cause against those prospective jurors who would always impose death following conviction, his right not to be tried by such jurors would be rendered as nugatory and


Page:   Index   Previous  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  20  21  22  Next

Last modified: October 4, 2007