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Douglas Eddington was charged as an accomplice in the murder of the son of a Tucson police officer. During voir dire, one potential juror stated he was employed as a deputy sheriff with the law enforcement agency that had investigated the crime. The trial court denied Eddington's motion to strike the deputy for cause, and the jury ultimately found Eddington guilty of second degree murder. The court of appeals held that the trial court erred in refusing to strike the deputy. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that a peace officer currently employed by the law enforcement agency that investigated the case is an "interested person," who is disqualified from sitting as a juror by Ariz. Rev. Stat. 21-211(2).Receive FREE Daily Opinion Summaries by Email
SUPREME COURT OF ARIZONA
STATE OF ARIZONA,
DOUGLAS LEE EDDINGTON,
Arizona Supreme Court
Court of Appeals
No. 2 CA-CR 08-0377
O P I N I O N
Appeal from the Superior Court in Pima County
The Honorable Kenneth Lee, Associate Presiding Judge
Opinion of the Court of Appeals, Division Two
226 Ariz. 72, 244 P.3d 76 (2010)
THOMAS C. HORNE, ARIZONA ATTORNEY GENERAL
Kent E. Cattani, Chief Counsel,
Capital Litigation Section
David A. Sullivan, Assistant Attorney General
Attorneys for State of Arizona
ROBERT J. HIRSH, PIMA COUNTY PUBLIC DEFENDER
Rebecca A. McLean, Deputy Public Defender
Stephen Richard Elzinga, Rule 38 Law Student
Attorneys for Douglas Lee Eddington
B E R C H, Chief Justice
Any person “interested directly or indirectly in [a]
matter” is disqualified from serving as a juror for that case.
Ariz. Rev. Stat. (“A.R.S.”) § 21-211(2) (2002).
before the Court is whether a peace officer employed by the law
enforcement agency that investigated a criminal case has such a
The answer is yes.
FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Douglas Lee Eddington was charged as an accomplice in
the murder of the son of a Tucson police officer.
deputy sheriff with the Pima County Sheriff’s Department, the
law enforcement agency that had investigated the crime, and knew
including the lead detective.
The deputy had been employed by
the Pima County Sheriff’s Department for twenty-four years and
at that time was assigned to the Pima County Superior Court
He acknowledged that he therefore understood
why two officers were present in the courtroom, suggesting that
he knew Eddington was in custody.
Based on these facts, Eddington moved to strike the
deputy for cause.
The trial court denied the motion, relying on
Eddington then used a peremptory strike to remove the deputy
We use the term “peace officer” as it is defined in A.R.S.
§§ 1-215(28) (Supp. 2011) and 13-105(29) (Supp. 2011).
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from the panel.
The jury ultimately found Eddington guilty of
second degree murder.
On appeal, a majority of the court of appeals held that
reasoning that peace officers employed by the law enforcement
disqualified by A.R.S. § 21-211(2).
State v. Eddington, 226
Ariz. 72, 76 ¶ 8, 244 P.3d 76, 80 (App. 2010).
But finding no
prejudice because the deputy had not participated in deciding
the case, the court affirmed the conviction.
Id. at 79 ¶ 19,
244 P.3d at 83 (citing State v. Hickman, 205 Ariz. 192, 199
¶ 31, 68 P.3d 418, 425 (2003)).
The concurring judge agreed
that the conviction should be affirmed, but disagreed that peace
officers should be automatically disqualified from serving as
Id. at 83 ¶ 39, 244 P.3d at 87 (Kelly, J.,
We granted review of the State’s petition because the
application of A.R.S. § 21-211(2) in this context is an issue of
We have jurisdiction under Article 6,
section 5, clause 3 of the Arizona Constitution and A.R.S. § 12–
The right to a jury trial requires unbiased, impartial
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Irvin v. Dowd, 366 U.S. 717, 722 (1961); accord State
v. Miller, 178 Ariz. 555, 557, 875 P.2d 788, 790 (1994).
may determine the qualifications for state jury service, so long
Taylor v. Louisiana, 419 U.S. 522, 538 (1975).
Both a statute and Court rules set forth grounds on
which potential jurors may be disqualified from jury service.
See A.R.S. § 21-211; Ariz. R. Crim. P. 18.4(b); Ariz. R. Civ. P.
Rule 18.4(b) directs dismissal for cause of potential
jurors who cannot render a fair and impartial verdict.
favor of or against either of the parties.”
While both statute
and rule exclude those who cannot be fair, the statute also
(1) witnesses in the action, (2) persons “interested
directly or indirectly” in the case, and (3) relatives of the
A.R.S. § 21-211(1)-(3).
from sitting on a jury for a specific case, § 21-211 serves at
least three goals:
(1) preserving the right to a fair trial by
knowledge about the case solely from information presented at
Because this is a criminal case, we do not address Civil
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appearance of fairness, which helps instill public confidence in
the judicial system.
See Press-Enter. Co. v. Superior Court,
464 U.S. 501, 508 (1984) (discussing “the appearance of fairness
system”); accord State v. Hursey, 176 Ariz. 330, 334, 861 P.2d
615, 619 (1993) (noting that “[j]ustice and the law must rest
upon the complete confidence of the . . . public”) (internal
quotation omitted); see also Turner v. Louisiana, 379 U.S. 466,
472-73 (1965) (observing that verdict must be based on evidence
developed during trial); accord Miller, 178 Ariz. at 557, 875
P.2d at 790.
As a statutory construction matter, an “interest” must
differ from “bias” and “prejudice” because the latter two terms
are addressed together in subsection (4) of § 21-211, while
“interest” is separately addressed in subsection (2).
legislature intended these words to have the same or similar
meanings, it likely would have included all three terms in the
Moreover, if the terms mean the same thing,
statutes so that no part is rendered redundant or meaningless.
See State v. Thompson, 204 Ariz. 471, 475 ¶ 10, 65 P.3d 420, 424
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indirect interest, but Arizona cases provide some guidance.
example, “[j]urors who are insured by an insurance company that
is a party in the case” have been deemed interested persons
whether a ruling might affect their insurance premiums.
v. Farmers Ins. Co., 177 Ariz. 371, 374, 868 P.2d 954, 957 (App.
Similarly, “every stockholder of a private corporation,
or a corporation exercising the functions defendant exercises,
is interested in the event of a suit brought against his company
and therefore, upon challenge for cause, should be excused.”
Salt River Valley Water Users’ Ass’n v. Berry, 31 Ariz. 39, 4344, 250 P. 356, 357 (1926) (citing statutory provision similar
to § 21-211(2)).
In both cases, the court disqualified the
The potential for an appearance of bias
sufficed to require disqualification regardless of any jurorspecific finding of actual bias.
Yet an interest under A.R.S. § 21-211(2) is not limited
to pecuniary concerns.
It may also include a desire to see one
side prevail in litigation or an alignment with or loyalty to
one party or side.
In criminal cases, for example, officers of
the agency that conducted the investigation work closely with
the prosecution and are often considered part of the prosecution
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See, e.g., Carpenter v. Superior Court, 176 Ariz. 486,
490, 862 P.2d 246, 250 (App. 1993) (finding “law enforcement
agency investigating a criminal action operates as an arm of the
prosecutor for purposes of obtaining information” under Arizona
Rules of Criminal Procedure).
The chief investigator may sit at
investigator will testify in the matter.
Ariz. R. Crim. P.
9.3(d); accord State v. Williams, 183 Ariz. 368, 379-80, 904
P.2d 437, 448-49 (1995).
Because investigators are part of the
exculpatory materials extends to them.
See Kyles v. Whitley,
514 U.S. 419, 437-38 (1995); see also Brady v. Maryland, 373
U.S. 83, 87 (1963); Ariz. R. Crim. P. 15.1(f)(2), (3).
investigating law enforcement agency, by making an arrest and
Accordingly, courts have recognized the interest shared by the
investigating agency and the prosecution in advocating for a
See, e.g., Arizona v. Evans, 514 U.S. 1, 15 (1995)
competitive enterprise of ferreting out crime”) (citing Johnson
v. United States, 333 U.S. 10, 14 (1948)); State v. Meza, 203
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Ariz. 50, 55 ¶ 21, 50 P.3d 407, 412 (App. 2002).3
In addition to the outward appearance of an interest, a
co-employee might feel pressure in judging the “credibility and
conduct of coworkers, a role with potential consequences for his
future working relationships.”
244 P.3d at 81.
Eddington, 226 Ariz. at 77 ¶ 11,
A deputy sitting as a juror might hesitate to
join a defense verdict in a criminal case investigated by fellow
officers from his own department and presumptively approved by
Id. at ¶ 10.
Beyond the general perception of fairness, § 22-211
also seeks to ensure that jurors decide the facts and return a
verdict based solely on evidence presented to them during the
trial, not on information they glean from other sources.
defendant’s right to a jury that considers only the evidence
The job description of a Deputy Pima County Sherriff
further illustrates the role a deputy may have in investigating
and prosecuting a case.
Investigative tasks include preparing
evidence for courtroom presentation; testifying in court;
investigating criminal activity; preserving and analyzing facts
and evidence; interviewing complainants, the accused, witnesses,
and the preliminary investigating officer; preparing and
submitting reports of criminal offenses, including modus
determination of guilt and prosecution of charges; among other
duties. A deputy employed by the same department that conducted
the investigation may work with other deputies engaged in
investigative tasks related to the case at hand.
County Sheriff’s Department, Deputy Sheriff:
available at http://www.pimasheriff.org/careers/deputy-sheriff/
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presented at trial).
A juror who works for the investigating
agency might have access to information not available to other
This concern is exemplified in this case, where the
By virtue of his position, the deputy might also have
had other inside information about the investigators or the type
Williams, 425 U.S. 501, 503-04 (1976) (urging courts to “be
alert to factors that may undermine the fairness of the fact
A primary purpose of § 21-211 is to promote public
confidence in the judicial system.
Everyone participating in
and observing a trial should have confidence that the trial is
fair in all respects.
The deputy here thought he could decide
fairly, and perhaps he could have done so, as the trial judge
But if the defendant’s jury had consisted of twelve
peace officers employed by the investigating agency, the public
perceive that a fair trial had not been had, even if all the
jurors had sworn during voir dire that they could be fair and
The State argues that peace officers’ jury service is
covered by A.R.S. § 21-202(B)(5) (Supp. 2011).
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See A.R.S. §§ 21-101 to -236 (2002 & Supp.
Once a peace officer elects to become a member of the
jury pool, that officer’s participation in the case, like that
of any other venire person, is subject to § 21-211.
The State also cites State v. Hill for the proposition
that a police officer acquainted with the prosecutor and two of
the state’s witnesses may serve on a jury if he says he can
remain fair and impartial.
174 Ariz. 313, 848 P.2d 1375 (1993).
But the facts here differ from those in Hill.
the challenged juror was a “police officer,” id. at 319, 848
P.2d at 1381, the crime was investigated by “deputies,” id. at
317, 848 P.2d at 1379, suggesting that the officers worked for
different law enforcement agencies.
The opinion mentions no
ties between the challenged juror and the investigating agency.
Hill recognizes that simply being a peace officer, without more,
does not disqualify one from jury service in a criminal case, a
result with which we agree.
Here, the deputy was neither exempt nor excused from
jury service solely because of his occupation.
Rather, he was
disqualified from serving as a juror on this particular case
because of his interest in the matter arising from the fact of
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The working relationship between the prosecution and
the investigating agency is the type of interest § 21-211(2) is
conclude that a peace officer currently employed by the law
enforcement agency that investigated the case is an “interested
conclusion does not depend on the particular officer’s knowledge
of witnesses or facts of the case or the officer’s belief in his
or her ability to be fair and impartial.
For the reasons set forth above, we affirm the opinion
of the court of appeals.
Rebecca White Berch, Chief Justice
Andrew D. Hurwitz, Vice Chief Justice
W. Scott Bales, Justice
A. John Pelander, Justice
Robert M. Brutinel, Justice
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