Legislature(1993 - 1994)

1994-03-09 Senate Journal

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1994-03-09                     Senate Journal                      Page 3116
SB 353                                                                       
SENATE BILL NO. 353 BY THE SENATE RULES COMMITTEE                              
BY REQUEST OF THE GOVERNOR, entitled:                                          
"An Act amending Alaska Rule of Criminal                                      
Procedure 24(d) relating to peremptory challenges of                           
jurors in felony criminal proceedings."                                        
was read the first time and referred to the State Affairs and Judiciary        

1994-03-09                     Senate Journal                      Page 3117
SB 353                                                                       
Zero fiscal notes published today from Department of Law,                      
Department of Public Safety and Department of Administration (2).              
Governor's transmittal letter dated March 9:                                   
Dear Mr. President:                                                            
Under the authority of art. III, sec. 18, of the Alaska Constitution,          
I am transmitting a bill relating to peremptory challenges of jurors           
in felony criminal proceedings.  During jury selection for felony              
trials, such as for murder, sexual assault, domestic violence, or child        
abuse, peremptory challenges are used by both prosecutors and                  
defense lawyers to remove potential jurors from the case in an effort          
to obtain a fair jury to hear the case.  But current court rules allow         
criminal defendants to peremptorily challenge 10 jurors without              
stating a cause, while prosecutors are only permitted to challenge six       
on this basis.  This difference in the court rules balances the scales         
unfairly, tilting jury selection in favor of criminal defendants.              
This bill will amend Alaska Rule of Criminal Procedure 24(d) to                
give prosecutors and defendants the same number of peremptory                  
challenges in jury trials in felony criminal cases.  This bill will help       
level the playing field in criminal prosecutions when trying to pick           
a fair jury to hear a criminal case.  Also, allowing both sides six            
peremptory challenges may reduce the cost of criminal trials by                
reducing the time needed for jury selection.                                   
I urge your favorable action on this bill.                                     
Walter J. Hickel