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BIAS Definition & Legal Meaning

Definition & Citations:

Inclination; bent; prepossession: a preconceived opinion; a predisposition to decide a cause or an issue in a certain way, which does not leave the mind perfectly open to conviction. Maddox v. State, 32 Ga. 5S7, 79 Am. Dec. 307; Pierson v. State, 18 Tex. App. 55S; Hinkle v. State, 94 Ga. 595, 21 S. E. 601. This term is not synonymous with “prejudice.” By the use of this word in a statute declaring disqualification of jurors, the legislature intended to describe another and somewhat different ground of disqualification. A man cannot be prejudiced against another without being biased against him ; but he may be biased without being prejudiced. Bias is “a particular influential power, which sways the judgment; the inclination of the mind towards a particular object.” It is not to be supposed that the legislature expected to secure in the juror a state of mind absolutely free from all inclination to one side or the other. The statute means that, although a juror has not formed a judgment for or against the prisoner, before the evidence is heard on the trial, yet, if he is under such an influence as so sways his mind to the one side or the other as to prevent his deciding the cause according to the evidence, he is incompetent. Willis v. State, 12 Ga. 444. Actual bias consists in the existence of a state of mind on the part of the juror which satisfies the court, in the exercise of a sound discretion, that the juror cannot try the issues impartially and without prejudice to the substantial rights of the party challenging. State v. Chapman, 1 S. D. 414. 47 N. W. 411, 10 L. R. A. 432; People v. McQuade, 110 N. Y. 284. 18 N. E. 150, 1 L. R. A. 273; People v. Wells, 100 Cal. 227, 34 Pac. 718.


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