Peremptory Challenge Definition and Legal Meaning

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

What is Peremptory Challenge?

The right given to either parties in selection of juries, where they have right to reject certain prospective jurors without any cause or reason. Such rights are exercised just once by both the parties but it cannot be used to keep off Jury of certain sex and race.Such challenges allow a much impartial and fair verdict to the court case.

History and Meaning of Peremptory Challenge

Peremptory Challenge is a term used in law which describes the right of either prosecution or defense to reject or dismiss jurors when there is no cause or reason to do so. The goal is to obtain a fair and impartial jury. This right originated in the English common law system and was later adopted by the United States legal system. Peremptory challenges were initially only granted to the prosecution but were later extended to the defense with the aim being to maintain a balance of power within the judicial system.

Peremptory challenge has been a subject of debate in recent years, especially regarding the use of the challenge to exclude potential jurors based on race and gender. Some have argued that this practice undermines the very intention of the system, which is to obtain an impartial jury. However, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1986 that attorneys are not allowed to use peremptory challenges to exclude jurors based on their race or gender, as that would violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution.

Examples of Peremptory Challenge

  1. During the jury selection process, the defense attorney used their peremptory challenge to dismiss a potential juror who they felt may be biased against their client.
  2. The prosecutor exercised a peremptory challenge to dismiss a potential juror who had a close family member who had previously been accused of a similar crime.
  3. The judge denied the defense's peremptory challenge, stating that they did not provide any valid reason for dismissing the potential juror.
  4. The defense attorney used their peremptory challenge to dismiss several potential jurors who were of the same race as the victim, leading to accusations of discrimination.
  5. The prosecution team used their peremptory challenges to dismiss all male jurors, leaving only female jurors remaining on the panel.

Legal Terms Similar to Peremptory Challenge

  1. For cause challenge - This is the right of either prosecution or defense to dismiss a prospective juror when there is a valid reason or cause to do so.
  2. Batson challenge - This challenge is used when the exclusion of a potential juror is believed to be based on race or ethnicity.
  3. Voir dire - This is the process of questioning potential jurors to determine if they are suitable to serve on a jury.