FINAL UNTIL TIME EXPIRES TO FILE REHEARING MOTION AND, IF
from the Circuit Court for Hillsborough County; Thomas P.
Barber and William Fuente, Judges.
L. Dimmig, II, Public Defender, and J. Rafael Rodriguez,
Special Assistant Public Defender, Bartow, for Appellant.
Jo Bondi, Attorney General, Tallahassee, and Cerese Crawford
Taylor, Assistant Attorney General, Tampa, for Appellee.
Albino Rodriguez appeals his convictions and sentences for
conspiracy to traffic in heroin and trafficking in heroin.
Rodriguez raises four issues on appeal, and we find no error
and make no further comment on the denial of his motion to
suppress and motion to continue. Because the trial court committed
reversible error in denying challenges for cause during jury
selection, we reverse and remand for a new trial. Based on
this disposition, we need not reach a fourth issue that
Rodriguez raises on appeal.
contends that the trial court erred in failing to strike for
cause Jurors 8, 13, 16, and 20 based on their responses
regarding whether they would give greater credence to law
enforcement witnesses. Because Jurors 13, 16, and 20 were not
rehabilitated, we agree that they should have been stricken
giving the prospective jurors preliminary instructions at the
beginning of voir dire, the trial court stated as follows:
It doesn't matter whether the witness is a physician or a
chemist or a police officer or a plumber. Every witness gets
on the witness stand on the same footing and you have to
assess the accuracy of that witness' testimony based upon
what he or she says compared to what other witnesses have to
say. And again in fact you'll get a special instruction
regarding expert witnesses and police officers and the
instruction will simply tell you that any witness, no witness
rather is entitled to any greater or lesser consideration
simply because of his or her position as to what he or she
defense counsel was questioning the venire he asked if law
enforcement officers are "given additional credibility
just because of who they are." He also asked the
question in terms of whether law enforcement officers are
given "additional credibility because of their
experiences[, ] because of their training." When defense
counsel asked Juror 8 if officers are given additional
credibility, she responded, "All things being equal I
think perhaps a law enforcement officer may have a little
more credibility but I would probably judge the testimony
based on the individual and what they were saying compared to
what everybody else was saying." When counsel said he
was trying to get a more definitive answer, she said,
"My training is in insurance claims work and so I'm
very accustomed to looking at a whole bunch of different
versions of things and trying to make an independent decision
based on what makes sense."
counsel asked Juror 13, "[I]s law enforcement given
additional credibility because-" Juror 13 cut counsel
off and said, "In my personal view, yes."
counsel asked Juror 16, "[I]s law enforcement given
additional credibility?" She answered yes, and when
asked to explain, she said, "Because it's their job.
I just assume they know how to do it."
counsel asked Juror 20, "[I]s law enforcement given
additional credibility based upon their training and
experience or are they treated as equal to any other lay
witness?" Juror 20 said, "Yes, based on their
training and experience."
the defense concluded, the prosecutor asked if she could have
a brief opportunity to rehabilitate some of the prospective
jurors. The trial court denied the request and said that they
would "proceed with what's been asked." No more
questions were asked of the ...