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Click here for the full text of this decision 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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