Why defense attorneys are split on Arizona's new jury selection rule

Published: Wednesday, March 16, 2022 - 11:37am
Updated: Thursday, March 17, 2022 - 7:29am
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Arizona is the first state in the country to do away with a process of removing potential jurors from the jury pool for no reason.

The state Supreme Court last year changed court rules to prohibit what are called peremptory challenges; that change went into effect this January. But Arizona lawmakers have been debating a bill that would reinstate them, at least in some cases.

Mohave County Attorney Matt Smith supports bringing them back; he testified in favor of the bill in front of the House Judiciary Committee in February.

The bill was approved by that House panel but was defeated by a vote of the full chamber. One of its supporters, though, used a procedural maneuver to potentially bring the bill back up for another vote.

Prosecutors like Smith have generally been in favor of reinstating peremptory challenges in Arizona, while many defense attorneys would prefer the state stick with the Supreme Court’s decision to do away with them.

Nate Wade is a public defender in Arizona and chair of the legislative and policy committee for Arizona Attorneys for Criminal Justice, a group made up of both public and private defense attorneys, as well as others in the field. 

The Show spoke with him and asked about some of the problems the court found with attorneys using these peremptory challenges.

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