Commonwealth v. Doss

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Justia Opinion Summary

The Commonwealth charged Defendant with felony theft. Defendant was acquitted of the charge by a jury at the conclusion of his trial. The Commonwealth appealed, arguing that the trial judge erred in discharging the jury panel initially selected to try the case because of its racial composition and then proceeding with the trial after empaneling a second, more racially inclusive jury. Defendant’s acquittal and the Double Jeopardy Clause prevented the Commonwealth from retrying the case against Defendant, but the Supreme Court accepted certification of questions posed by the Commonwealth regarding the issues presented in this case. The Supreme Court answered (1) a trial judge does not have the discretion to dismiss a randomly selected jury panel despite its unrepresentative appearance when it was not shown to have failed to reflect a fair cross-section of the community and where its selection was otherwise lawful; and (2) a trial judge may not generally prohibit the parties during voir dire from examining or challenging a prospective juror with respect to statements made by the juror during a previous voir dire examination, although the judge may impose reasonable limitations on the inquiry.