- A criminal case in which capital punishment (also known as the death penalty) is a potential outcome.
There are many things that can be challenged in court, but for our purposes here, we are talking about a challenge in the context of juries. In a trial by jury, when an attorney asks that a prospective juror or a seated juror be excused, this is known as a challenge. There are two primary types of challenges: challenges for cause and peremptory challenges.
Challenge for Cause
- A challenge for cause is made by an attorney who wishes to have a person excused from jury service for a specific reason that calls into question their ability to judge the case fairly.
For example, the attorney may ask that the person be excused because they have a conflict of interest (e.g. they are employed by the defendant). Another person might be challenged for cause because they have expressed bias or inability to be impartial in the case at hand (e.g. the defendant is charged with assault on a police officer and a prospective juror is a retired police officer who was himself injured in the line of duty).
Contrast this with a peremptory challenge.
- See stacking charges.
- Conscientious acquittal is a term that is used roughly interchangeably with jury nullification. While you will still frequently see the term jury nullification in FIJA's work, we have several reasons for speaking of conscientious acquittal in addition to or in place of jury nullification.
The term conscientious acquittal stresses the importance of consulting one's conscience in arriving at a verdict rather than simply unthinkingly enforcing the law as instructed by the government.
It also stresses the directional nature of the concept. It refers to acquitting someone who has technically broken the law rather than convicting someone despite them not having broken the law.
While we will still use the commonly known term jury nullification, we are also using the term conscientious acquittal more frequently for these and other reasons.