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Definition of Peremptory Challenge

A peremptory challenge is the right of an attorney to challenge the assignment of a juror without a reason or cause. The practice is still used in the United States. Parties in a case, however, only have a limited number of peremptory challenges. These challenges permit a party to remove a prospective juror without giving a reason for the removal, although the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled these challenges cannot be done because of race or gender.

The goal of the peremptory challenge is to find a panel of jurors who are not biased and for each attorney to find jurors who they believe may be sympathetic to their client. Critics of the practice argue it is discriminatory. Countries such as England have agreed, abolishing the practice in the 1980s.

Peremptory challenges differ from for cause challenges which are unlimited but which are more difficult to use because the lawyer must prove cause.

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