What is a "Challenge for Cause?"

When picking a jury in New York in a case involving medical malpractice, an accident case, a negligence case or even wrongful death case, the attorneys who are picking a jury are each assigned a certain number of “challenges.”

This means they can excuse a potential juror about giving any reason whatsoever until they have exhausted all of their specific challenges. These are known as 'peremptory challenges'.

What happens if an attorney does not want to use up the challenges they are allocated?

First of all, an attorney who represents an injured victim will usually only have three peremptory challenges. Each defense attorney will also receive only three peremptory challenges.

If an attorney has used up all of the peremptory challenges he has to excuse potential jurors, and comes across another potential juror who he believes should not be on the jury, he then must use a “challenge for cause.”

This means he must give a reasonable explanation to the attorneys about why that juror should be excused under the law. If the attorneys cannot agree and consent among eachother to excuse a particular juror for cause then the lawyers must take this issue up with the judge who is supervising jury selection.

Gerry Oginski
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NY Medical Malpractice & Personal Injury Trial Lawyer