Challenge for Cause Law and Legal Definition

A challenge for cause is a request that a prospective juror be dismissed because there is a specific reason to believe the person cannot be fair, unbiased or capable of serving as a juror. It is usually made during the voir dire phase (questioning of the jurors) in a lawsuit. Reasons to suspect the fitness of a juror to decide the case impartially include acquaintanceship with either of the parties, one of the attorneys or a witness, prior life experience in a similar case that may have formed a bias, the juror stands to benefit from a decision in the case, they have already formed an opinion about the case, or any obvious or stated prejudice, or inability to serve. The judge ultimately determines if the person shall be dismissed. Challenges and dismissal for cause differ from peremptory challenges, which each side may use to dismiss potential jurors without stating any reason. In states which allow unequal numbers of peremptory challenges, the accused usually has the greater number.