Appeal from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia; (Hon. Henry H. Kennedy, Jr., Trial Judge)
Before Rogers, Chief Judge, and Terry and Steadman, Associate Judges.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Rogers
ROGERS, Chief Judge: Appellant Anthony Harris appeals his conviction by a jury of armed robbery, D.C. Code §§ 22-2901, -3202 (1989 Repl.), on the grounds that his due process rights were violated when the trial Judge failed to remove a potential juror for cause and refused to grant a mistrial when another juror mistakenly failed to respond to a question during voir dire. *fn1 We affirm.
During voir dire, the trial Judge posed the Ridley *fn2 question to potential jurors:
The question is whether any of you, members of your family or very close friends within the past ten years either have been a victim of a crime, a witness to a crime or accused, that is, charged with having committed a crime. I'm going to repeat the question.
Have any or you or have any members of your family or have any of your close friends either been a victim of a crime, a witness to a crime, whether or not you were summoned to court to testify, or accused or having committed a crime. I have limited this question to the past ten years, but if there is something significant that happened further back than this ten years, we would want to know about that as well.
Juror number 973 answered this question affirmatively and explained that she had been the victim of a pickpocket and the victim of an armed robbery. In response to defense counsel's questioning, the juror said:
Well, the armed robbery was pretty traumatizing. I thought I was going to be killed. I really did. Because we all saw them, there were two of them, and they herded us into a room before they left, and I thought this is it, and it's something I think will be with me all of the rest of my life, but on the other hand, I feel I'm an analytical person and I can deal with facts. It's hard to call.
Although the trial Judge denied a motion to remove juror number 973 for cause, defense counsel removed the juror with a peremptory strike.
Juror number 075, who did not respond to the Ridley question during voir dire, later informed the jury during its deliberations that her son had been convicted of a crime. After being informed of this fact by a jury note, the trial Judge conducted an additional voir dire of juror number 075, during which the juror advised that she had misunderstood the Ridley question to include only criminal convictions more than ten years old. After the second voir dire of juror 075, defense counsel renewed his motion for a mistrial, which the trial Judge denied.
Appellant contends that his due process rights were violated when the trial Judge refused to strike juror number 973 for cause. We disagree. The trial Judge has broad discretion over whether to strike a juror for cause, Rease v. United States, 403 A.2d 322, 325 (D.C. 1979); Wilburn v. United States, 340 A.2d 810, 812 (D.C. 1975), and the exercise of that discretion will not be reversed "unless the juror's partiality is manifest." Wilburn, supra, 340 A.2d at 812. In determining whether a juror can be impartial, the trial Judge must consider all circumstances and not merely accept the juror's belief as controlling. Id. We find no basis on which to conclude that the juror's partiality was manifest.
Although the juror was a victim of armed robbery -- the same crime of which appellant was charged -- the event occurred over 15 years before appellant's trial, beyond the 10 year scope of the Ridley question. While the juror described the incident as "traumatizing," she was not physically injured and was never subsequently involved in testifying against, or identifying, her attacker. Moreover, the juror described herself as an "analytical person" who could "deal with facts." *fn3 The trial Judge had the opportunity to evaluate the juror's demeanor, and his Conclusion that she could be impartial was not unwarranted. See State v. Singletary, 80 N.J. 55, , 402 A.2d 203, 207 (1979) (in armed robbery trial, no abuse of discretion in not excusing juror who had been victimized during armed robbery seventeen days before being called to jury duty, although recent involvement in similar crime will often require recusal), rev'g 156 N.J. Super. 303, 383 A.2d 1151 (App. Div. 1978); Thomas v. State, 50 Md. App. 286, , 437 A.2d 678, 684 (1982) (in felony murder and armed robbery trial, any error in not excusing two potential jurors who had been victims of armed robbery was harmless since defendant only used 15 of 20 peremptory challenges); Guardino v. State, 50 Md. App. 695, , 440 A.2d 1101, 1103 (1982) (in trial for rape, robbery and battery, no abuse of discretion in not excusing potential juror who had been victim of recent burglary or juror whose spouse had twice been victim of ...