Potential Jurors Admit May Not Remain Impartial if Accused Doesn’t Testify in Drunk Driving Case

By Ivan Villegas

WOODLAND, CA – “I do have difficulty remaining unbiased and keeping an open mind,” one potential juror told Judge Daniel P. Maguire here during jury selection in Yolo County Superior Court Tuesday in a DUI (driving under the influence) case.

“For me, it rings the same as pleading the Fifth, at that point you’re hiding something,” said another juror, referring to whether or not they would hold it against the accused if they chose not to testify in their own case.

On January 18, 2022, the accused—whose identity won’t be revealed because it’s a non-felony case—was charged with driving under the influence and drunk driving, both misdemeanors, and two enhancements for excessive blood alcohol content or refusal to submit to a test.




One juror questioned if they were supposed to form an opinion from the facts presented to them. In response Judge Maguire said, “I like to use the word finding. You’re making a finding, not an opinion…you’re not rooting for either side.”

Before handing the questioning over to the attorneys, another potential juror disclosed that they had received a DUI previously and that this might affect their ability to remain impartial.

“Do you think it might cause you to lean one way or another?” Judge Maguire asked. The potential juror answered, “It might, because I had a bad experience with the police officers.”

Later, after the lawyers asked questions, some potential jurors claimed they would need to hear testimony from the accused to return a not guilty verdict, even though the accused has the right to decline to testify.

“Why wouldn’t the person want to do it?” asked one potential juror.

Another potential juror, who said they had previous experience testifying in a courtroom as an expert witness, admitted they could not remain unbiased against the defense when seeing defense counsel cross-examine witnesses, noting, “Look, I get paid to be opinionated and judgy, and I can’t turn it off.”

During questioning by the prosecution, potential jurors disclosed they had family members or friends who had died as a result of drunk driving, which would affect their ability to remain impartial.

At least six potential jurors were dismissed, either with reason or as a result of peremptory challenges from both attorneys. Jury selection and the trial proceeds this week.

About The Author

Ivan Villegas (he/him) is a criminal justice graduate from CSU Sacramento. He wishes to continue his studies in law school starting in fall 2023. He is interested in immigration and international law, and hopes to use his degree for a career as an immigration attorney.

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