I came across a case in which a prosecutor attempted to use a peremptory challenge against a juror who he perceived as  disabled due to “halting speech” and the prosecutor’s “discomfort” with the way the juror “stared” at him.  According to him, this indicated a lack of “mental acuity” sufficient to deliberate upon evidence received in a three to four day trial.  Although stating that she did not equate the juror’s “halting speech” with mental slowness, the trial judge found that the challenge was not misused.

The defendant’s conviction was reversed on appeal.  The appeals court held that the trial judge’s consideration of the issue was not specific or clear enough to find the use of the challenge to be proper.  The court pointed out that the trial judge’s ruling did not find that the challenge was based on facts that applied to this juror personally rather than the perception of the juror  as disabled.

This case provides a perfect example of why the ADA and state law prohibit discrimination against people perceived as being disabled in addition to those who do have an actual disability.

This entry was posted on Saturday, May 1st, 2010 at 7:50 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

One Response to “Perception of Disability”

  1. carrie on May 1st, 2010 at 7:56 pm

    very good points were made
    looking forward to reading more
    well done

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