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Live Oak v. Townsend

Court of Appeal of Florida, First District

September 5, 1990, Filed

Case Nos. 89-148, 89-621

Opinion

 [*927]  Among the issues presented for our review in this consolidated appeal is whether the trial court abused its discretion in denying appellant's challenges for cause directed to certain prospective jurors in an eminent domain proceeding. Finding such an abuse of discretion, we reverse on this issue without reaching the other questions raised.

During voir dire examination, the attorney for the condemning authority, City of Live Oak, asked certain questions of prospective jurors designed to highlight any biases they may have toward the power of eminent domain, generally, and with respect to the facts of the case at hand,  [**2]  in particular. While perhaps not models of clarity, these questions dealt primarily with matters of full and just compensation and fair market value. The attorney stressed repeatedly that condemnees were entitled to receive full and just compensation or fair market value for their property. Questioning the prospective jurors individually, he asked them if they would award the affected landowners more than fair market value based on sentiment or because the landowners were reluctant to part with their property, etc.

Because of their responses to the questions asked, appellant's attorney lodged challenges for cause against prospective jurors Johnson, Allen, Gray, Merrill, Horne, Knosher, Bohannon and Carver. In each case, the trial court denied the challenge for cause, forcing the city to use its remaining peremptory challenges to excuse venirepersons Horne, Allen, Merrill and Gray. Before the jury was sworn, the attorney for the city unsuccessfully renewed his request that the above named prospective jurors be excused for cause because he was still dissatisfied with the composition of the jury about to be seated. Of those venirepersons the city tried to excuse for cause, Johnson,  [**3]  Knosher, Bohannon and Carver were seated as jurors.

Review of the record reflects that each of the prospective jurors challenged for cause should have been excused. Prospective juror Johnson made it clear he had a strongly fixed opinion that the landowner is entitled to something extra if his land was taken against his will. He would give the landowner something extra even if the judge told him that would be improper.

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567 So. 2d 926 *; 1990 Fla. App. LEXIS 6767 **; 15 Fla. L. Weekly D 2257

THE CITY OF LIVE OAK, FLORIDA, Appellant, v. ARLIE K. TOWNSEND and ROSSIE TOWNSEND, his wife, and ROBERT J SPARKS and IRMA M. SPARKS, Appellee

Subsequent History:   [**1]  Review Denied April 1, 1991, Reported at 1991 Fla. LEXIS 621. Review Denied April 1, 1991, Reported at 1991 Fla. LEXIS 622.

Prior History: An appeal from the Suwannee County Circuit Court, Harlow H. Land, Jr., Judge.

Disposition: REVERSED and REMANDED.

CORE TERMS

jurors, landowner, peremptory, renewed, condemnee, impartial, eminent, domain, inconvenience, venirepersons, seated

Civil Procedure, Jurors, Selection, General Overview