UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA
January 22, 2010
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, PLAINTIFF,
DOLORES LOVIN (5); MARY ARONSON (6); PHILIP JAMES BIDWELL (12); RICHARD EDWARD KOCH (11); JEFFREY A. LIGHT (14); TRACY O'NEAL TYLER (15); PETER P. BRAGANSA (16), DEFENDANTS.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Irma E. Gonzalez, Chief Judge United States District Court
Order Denying Motion for Reconsideration [Doc. No. 901]
Defendant Philip James Bidwell has filed a motion for reconsideration of the Court's January 19, 2010 order declining to include the following question on the proposed jury questionnaire:
In a criminal case, a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until the prosecution proves guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Regardless, do you think that when someone is accused of a serious crime, he or she should be required to provide his or her innocence?
Defendant argues the question is of utmost importance to help insure a fair trial.
The Court remains convinced this is an area of inquiry more appropriately reserved for attorney-conduct voir dire. The proposed question is purely philosophical, asking prospective jurors whether they believe the law is correct rather than whether they are willing to apply the law. Although this is an appropriate area of inquiry, both the Court and counsel should have the opportunity to hear and observe prospective jurors' responses. Asking the question during attorney-conducted voir dire, rather than in a written questionnaire, not only allows counsel and the Court to fully explain the constitutional importance of the presumption of innocence, but also allows counsel and the Court to follow-up on any responses to determine whether the prospective juror could be fair and impartial.
The Court DENIES defendant Bidwell's motion for reconsideration.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
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