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  A widely discussed example of the use of voir dire to eliminate jurors likely to nullify the law is the selection of 'death qualified' juries in capital cases. Jurors are excluded whose responses at voir dire indicate that their views on capital punishment 'would prevent or substantially impair the performance of [their] duties as . . . jurors in accordance with [their] instructions and [their] oath.' Adams v. Texas, 448 U.S. 38, 45, 65 L. Ed. 2d 581, 100 S. Ct. 2521 (1980); see also Witherspoon v. Illinois, 391 U.S. 510, 513-14, 20 L. Ed. 2d 776, 88 S. Ct. 1770 (1968). 


Every day in courtrooms across the length and breadth of this country, jurors are dismissed from the venire 'for cause' precisely because they are unwilling or unable to follow the applicable law. Indeed, one of the principal purposes of voir dire is to ensure that the jurors ultimately selected for service are unbiased and willing and able to apply the law as instructed by the court to the evidence presented by the parties. The Federal Judicial Center's Benchbook for U.S. District Court Judges includes the following among its list of standard voir ...

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