Challenge Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Challenge, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Challenge?

(n) Challenge is the method by which an attorney in a trial objects the position taken by a jury in a trial when the juror has shown a conflict of interest or prejudice. Once challenged judge must resolve the issue else the attorney can move peremptory challenge.

History and Meaning of Challenge

Challenge is a fundamental aspect of the legal trial process. In trials, attorneys are permitted to object if someone on the jury appears to have a conflict of interest or bias. This objection is called a challenge, and it can take two forms: a challenge for cause and a peremptory challenge.

A challenge for cause applies to jurors who have demonstrated bias. Such bias may stem from personal experience, prior knowledge of the case, or opinions that would prevent them from being an impartial juror. After a challenge for a cause is made, the judge must decide whether to allow the challenged person to continue serving on the jury.

In contrast, a peremptory challenge refers to an attorney's ability to strike a juror without stating a reason. This power is limited, and the number of peremptory challenges is usually set by law.

Examples of Challenge

  1. During the jury selection process, the defense counsel used a peremptory challenge to remove a potential juror they believed displayed bias against their client.
  2. The prosecution employed a challenge for cause when a potential juror who was a close friend of the defendant was present in the jury pool.
  3. In a high-profile case, a juror who said they had already made up their mind about the verdict was the subject of a challenge for cause as they would not have been able to uphold their duties as a juror.

Legal Terms Similar to Challenge

  1. Voir Dire: The process of selecting a jury and screening jurors for possible bias or conflicts of interest.
  2. Objection: A statement by an attorney expressing disagreement or dissatisfaction with something being said or done during the trial.
  3. Motion to Disqualify: A request to remove a judge or an attorney from a case.