REVIEW FROM COURT OF APPEALS CASE NO. 2014-CA-001818-MR
HICKMAN CIRCUIT COURT NO. 14-CR-00023
COUNSEL FOR APPELLANT: Shannon Renee Dupree Assistant Public
COUNSEL FOR APPELLEE: Andy Beshear Attorney General Gregory
C. Fuchs Assistant Attorney General
Hickman Circuit Court jury found Appellant, Robert Morrison,
guilty of escape and fleeing or evading police and found him
to be a first-degree persistent felony offender. The trial
court sentenced Appellant to fifteen years' imprisonment.
Appellant appealed to the Court of Appeals, arguing the trial
court erred in failing to strike a juror for cause,
that court affirmed the trial court. Appellant sought
discretionary review with this Court, which we granted. For
the reasons that follow, we reverse the Court of Appeals and
remand this matter to the trial court.
facts underlying the escape and fleeing or evading charges
for which Appellant was convicted are not at issue in this
appeal. Appellant's sole issue involves, jury selection.
During voir dire, a juror, Mrs. Morris revealed that she was
the mother of the County Attorney, Sue Ellen Morris. The
judge called the juror to the bench for a colloquy. She was
present during the entirety of the following exchange:
Judge: How ya doing today, Mrs. Morris?
Judge: You are Sue Ellen's mother?
Judge: Would that cause you any problems today sitting,
hearing this case, and rendering a decision?
Juror: I don't think so, but I didn't want-
Judge: . Well, we appreciate ya telling everybody so
everybody else would know who you were.
Judge: All right.
Defense: Judge, I would ask her-for her to be excused for
cause. Sue Ellen is the-Ms. Morris-I'm sorry-is, the
attorney who did the preliminary hearing. I just don't
want there to be-albeit an appearance-and I don't think
it cures it by asking her. I think there is pressure on her
to say she can be unbiased and it's just too close to the
Judge: AH right. Commonwealth?
Prosecutor: I don't have a problem with her sitting. Like
I said, I think she is ...