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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:Monique Renee Braxton shot and killed her husband following an argument. During voir dire, the trial court permitted the state to ask the venire panel, “Do you think that you would be more likely than any other defendant to consider self-defense just because she is a woman?” This question, in similar forms, was repeated to members of the venire panel on individual bases. Braxton and the state agreed that the question was a commitment question. In other words, the state’s question asked the prospective jurors if any would resolve the issue of self-defense more favorably to the defendant based on the knowledge that the defendant was a woman. Venire members 1, 2, 7 and 19 responded affirmatively to the state’s commitment question. Based on these responses, the trial court allowed the state to strike those venire members for cause. After the close of evidence, the trial court instructed the jury on the law of self-defense. Rejecting that argument, the jury convicted Braxton of murder and assessed her punishment at 46 years in prison. HOLDING:Affirmed. Commitment questions, the court stated, are those that commit a prospective juror to resolve, or to refrain from resolving, an issue a certain way after learning a particular fact. The court first concluded that the state’s question was a commitment question. A commitment question, the court stated, may be improper if it includes facts in addition to those necessary to establish a challenge for cause. That is, the question should not contain more case-specific facts than needed to give rise to a valid challenge for cause. In this case, the court stated, the state’s question did not include facts that were unnecessary to determining a valid challenge for cause. The question, the court stated, did not attempt to commit the prospective jurors to a specific set of facts before the presentation of evidence at trial. Rather, the court stated, the state’s inquiry included only one fact that the defendant was a woman. This fact, the court stated, was necessary to ascertain whether any prospective juror possessed a pre-existing bias in favor of Braxton solely because she was a woman. The state’s question was a commitment question, the court stated, but it was a proper commitment question. The question gave rise to a valid challenge for cause, the court stated, and it included no more facts than necessary to elicit the challenge. The court held that the trial court did not abuse its discretion by allowing the state to ask the prospective jurors whether they were more likely to consider a claim of self-defense made by a woman. OPINION:Higley, J.; Nuchia, Keyes and Higley, J.J. ” The trial court erred by sustaining the state’s objection to voir dire questions regarding whether potential jurors automatically disbelieved a convicted felon. Vann v. State, Fort Worth Court of Appeals, 2-06-129-CR, 2-8-2007. FACTS:At approximately 12:01 a.m. on April 16, 2005, police officers pulled over a white Nissan for following another car too closely. When the officers turned on their red and blue emergency lights, the driver pulled over to the shoulder and stopped. As the officers prepared to exit their patrol car, the Nissan’s driver suddenly pulled back onto the road and accelerated quickly. The officers turned on their lights and sirens and followed the Nissan at speeds ranging from 30 to 80 miles per hour. At some point during the pursuit, the officers observed Linda Garrett exit the driver’s seat and climb into the backseat area of the Nissan. Michael Sean Vann, the male passenger slid over and took control of the car. Vann continued driving at varying speeds for approximately one and one-half minutes, even though an improved shoulder existed along the roadway. A short time after Vann took the wheel, the officers saw the Nissan’s engine “blow” as oil and flames exuded from the car’s hood. Eventually, Vann pulled the Nissan over on the shoulder and cooperated with officers from that point on. A jury found Vann guilty of evading arrest and detention with a motor vehicle, and he appealed from his conviction and eight-year sentence. Vann complained that the trial court erred by sustaining the state’s objection to voir dire questions regarding whether potential jurors automatically disbelieved a convicted felon. HOLDING:Reversed and remanded. A trial court abuses its discretion when it prohibits a proper question on a proper area of inquiry. Under the Court of Criminal Appeals’ 2001 opinion Standefer v. State, 59 S.W.3d 177, the determination of whether a question propounded to venire members during voir dire is a proper commitment question is a three-part inquiry. First, under Standefer, a trial court should first determine if a question is a commitment question. A commitment question is one that commits a prospective juror to resolve, or refrain from resolving, an issue a certain way after learning a particular fact. Second, if a question is a commitment question, then the court must decide whether it is nevertheless a proper question. For a question to be a proper commitment question, one of the possible answers to the question must give rise to a valid challenge for cause. Third, a proper commitment question must also contain only those facts necessary to test whether a prospective juror is challengeable for cause. Applying these rules, the court held that the question at issue was a commitment question, because it asked prospective jurors whether they would resolve an issue � witness credibility � based solely on a particular fact, that the witness was a convicted felon. The question posed by defense counsel in voir dire, the court stated, only sought to elicit whether potential jurors had an automatic predisposition to disbelieve a witness who was a convicted felon. Thus, the court stated, the question would have led to a proper challenge for cause. Accordingly, the court held that the trial court abused its discretion by prohibiting defense counsel from asking potential jurors the question. The court further held that in the context of the entire case against Vann, the character of the trial court’s error in prohibiting defense counsel from asking this question was such that it had a significant or injurious effect on the jury’s verdict so that Vann’s substantial rights to a fair and impartial jury, and to make an intelligent decision on whether to call or not call a witness, were affected. OPINION:Livingston, J.; Livingston, Dauphinot and Holman, J.J.

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