CAPITAL MURDER VOIR DIRE

 

 

PRESENTED BY

JUDGE C.C. (KIT) COOKE

SENIOR DISTRICT JUDGE

18TH JUDICIAL DISTRICT

PO Box 764

Cleburne, Texas 76033-0764

 

Paper Prepared By:

DAVID W. VERNON

Assistant District Attorney

Johnson County District Attorney’s Office

Johnson County Courthouse

2 North Main Street

Cleburne, Texas 76031

 

 

 

 

 

ADVANCED CRIMINAL LAW COURSE

JULY 17-20, 2000

San Antonio, Texas

 

Chapter 34

PROFESSIONAL CURRICULUM VITAE

OF

C.C.(KIT) COOKE

Senior District Judge of the

18th Judicial District of Texas

P.O. Box 764

Cleburne, Texas 76033

817/558-1811 (office) 817/558-3581 (home)

AGE:

53 years

EDUCATION:

B.A.- Baylor University-1968

J.D.- Baylor Law School-1970

Board Certified Criminal Law- 1980

PROFESSIONAL ACTIVITIES

Admitted to State Bar-1970

Admitted to United States Supreme Court

Admitted to United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals

Admitted to United States District Court Northern District of Texas

Texas House of Representatives-1973-74; elected at age 24, serving Johnson,

Hood Somervell, and Erath Counties (Appropriation and Judiciary Committees)

County Judge-Johnson County-1975-77; elected at age 26; Youngest County Judge in Texas

District Judge-249th District Court of Johnson and Somervell Counties-1977-84; appointed by Gov. Dolph Briscoe-Youngest District Judge in Texas at age 30

Visiting District Judge-State of Texas-1984-88

District Judge-18th District Court of Johnson and Somervell Counties, 1989-98

*Senior District Judge serving the entire State of Texas-1998-present

President-Johnson County Bar Association-1974

Honored in 1986-by Tarrant County Commissioner’s Court for disposing of more cases than any District Judge in the history of Tarrant County

Citation in 1982-Victims Rights Advocacy Award

Chairman of Board and Director-Texas Board of Legal Specialization-1981-84

Graduate-National Judicial College Advanced Criminal Course

Charter Member-Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association

Member-Judicial Section-State Bar of Texas

Member-Texas Association of Board Certified Specialists in Criminal Law

Sustaining Life Fellow-Texas Bar Foundation

Faculty-16th Advanced Criminal Law Course, State Bar of Texas Topic: Capital Murder

Member-Judicial Advisory Committee, Texas Punishment Standards Commission-1992

Gean B. Turner Award for Legal Excellence-1992

Faculty-Texas College of Advanced Judicial Studies-1993 Topic: Handling a Capital Case (Course only for judges)

Author of the "Cookebook"-a trial manual for Judges who try Capital Murder Cases

Author and Lecturer-1995 New York State Judges’ Seminar Topic-"Handling a Death Penalty Trial : A Personal View from the Bench"

Moderator-1995—Johnson County Family Crisis Seminar for North Texas Judges

Moderator, Author, and Lecturer-1997-Attorney Ad Litem’s Seminar for Child

Victims of Abuse for North Texas Attorneys

Author and Lecturer-1999 New York Judges’ Seminar Topic: "Personal Reflections on Handling Capital Cases: A National Perspective"

Faculty-2000 Advanced Criminal Law Course, State Bar of Texas Topic: Capital Murder Voir Dire

*Current Position held

Judge C.C. (Kit) Cooke retired on October 5, 1998, after 26 years of public service. He is "Of Counsel" to the Cooke Law Firm, P.C., with his son, Christopher C. Cooke, 418 W. Chambers, Cleburne, Texas. He sits as a Senior District Judge throughout the State of Texas on an assignment basis.

 

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

I. Introduction and acknowledgments 1

II. Pretrial motions relevant to capital murder voir dire 1

A. Demand for individual voir dire 1

B. Motion to present written questions to jury panel 1-2

C. Motion for equal access to background information on prospective jurors 2

D. Motion to voir dire venire on victim impact 2

E. Motion to voir dire on parole law-40 years minimum 2

III. Jury selection and composition 2

A. Source of jurors 2

B. Special venire 2-3

C. Writ of attachment 3

D. Challenge to the array 3

E. Motion to shuffle jury 4

F. Qualifications for jury service 4-5

G. Disqualification from jury service 5

H. Exemptions from jury service 5-7

I. Oath to special venire 7

J. Excuses from jury service 7-8

K. Challenge for cause 8

1. Qualified voter 8

2. Witness in the case 8-9

3. Prior service as a juror 9

4. Bias or prejudice in favor of or against a defendant 9

a. Animosity towards the defendants 9

b. Bias for/against a class of witnesses 9-10

c. Bias arising from personal experience 10

d. Familiarity with court participant 10

e. Bias from employment 10

f. Bias against crime 10

5. Conclusion as to guilt 10-11

6. Literacy 11

7. Bias or prejudice against the law 11

a. Standing to challenge 11-12

b. Trial court’s discretion 12

c. Procedure when bias is discovered 12

d. Examples of bias against some phase of the law 12-13

e. Bias against the law resulting from improper voir dire examination 14

f. Inability to follow the law because of views on capital punishment 14-16

8. Consanguinity 16

9. Grounds not enumerated in the statute 16

10. Appellate review of the trial court’s determination of bias 16

11. Preserving error 16-17

12. Sua sponte discharge of prospective jurors 17

13. Denial of defendant’s challenge for cause 17-18

14. Juror who withholds information 18

a. Matters deemed "material" 18-19

b. "Withholding" information 19

c. Preserving error 19-20

15. Mitigation 20

L. Peremptory challenges 20

1. Number 20

2. Preserving error when a peremptorily- struck juror is

accidentally placed on the jury 20-21

3. Procedure in exercising challenges 21

4. Batson challenges 21-26

M. Restrictions on the scope of voir dire examination 26

1. Counsel’s constitutional right to conduct voir dire 26

2. Time restrictions 26

3. Limitations on particular questions 27

4. Limitations based on the subject matter of the question 27-29

5. Preserving error based on voir dire restriction 29

IV. Voir dire issues currently being considered on

petition for discretionary review 30-31

V. Appendix A- sample pretrial motions 32-46

VI. Appendix B- sample jury questionnaire 47-57