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MINEOLA — A juror who said that she “should be able” to overcome her racial bias to participate in a black man’s burglary trial did not provide an unequivocal assurance of her impartiality, the Appellate Division, Second Department, has ruled.

Without such assurance, the lower court committed reversible error in rejecting defense counsel’s bid to have the juror replaced, the appeals panel found.

In an unsigned opinion released Monday, the Second Department determined that defendant Joseph Wilson was entitled to a new trial on charges of burglary and other crimes.

The panel ruled that Nassau County Court Judge Joseph C. Calabrese in People v. Wilson, 2855/00, should have granted defense counsel’s attempt to remove the juror, who had said during selection that she and her family had been victims of “people of color.”

The panel found that saying she “should be able” to set aside her experiences fell short of a juror’s express and unequivocal declaration of impartiality.

Mr. Wilson was sentenced to 3 to 6 years in prison in December 2001.

Peter Weinstein, chief of the appeals bureau for the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office, said that a distinction existed between what was heard during jury selection and what the appeals panel read in deciding the case.

“Unfortunately, the record doesn’t disclose intonation,” Mr. Weinstein said. He said his office is considering an appeal.

Defense attorney Martin G. Goldberg, who has offices in Brooklyn and Franklin Square, said the trial court’s decision to allow the juror to hear the case was “a stretch.”

“There are enough jurors out there,” he said. “She was a very honest woman and had no business being on the jury.”

The juror’s encounter involved a break-in at her family’s dry cleaning business, Mr. Goldberg said.

According to the Second Department decision, “the juror informed the court that she would not be able to judge the defendant fairly because she and her family had been victims of crimes committed by ‘people of color.’ “

She did say she “would try to set aside her experiences,” the court said.

Asked by defense counsel if her past would affect her ability to be objective, she replied, “I don’t know. I have to look at the evidence, I guess, and see. You see, the thing is, I know what happened in the past does haunt me, but I try not to think about it.”

Questioned again about her ability to set aside her past experiences, she replied, “I should be able to do it.”

Defense counsel, which had already exhausted its preemptory challenges, moved unsuccessfully to discharge the juror for cause.

The appeals panel considered her statements as a whole and concluded that the juror was unable to demonstrate that her bias would not influence her verdict. She was also unable to show that she could render an impartial verdict based on the evidence presented, the panel found.

“In this case, it is clear that the prospective juror’s initial statements indicated a hostility to black people which cast serious doubt on her ability to render an impartial verdict,” the decision stated.

The justices on the panel were Howard Miller, Thomas A. Adams, Sandra L. Townes and William F. Mastro.

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