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Court Finds No Valid Basis for Prosecutor to Strike Black Jurors

People v. Salinas Docket: B307985 (Second Appellate District), Opinion Date: April 4, 2022. During Defendant’s murder trial, the prosecution used five of its eight peremptory challenges to remove Black women from the jury panel. Defense counsel raised a Batson challenge at trial. Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79 (1986). The court accepted the prosecution’s proffered reasons for the use of its peremptory challenges. Defendant was convicted and appealed. When the trial court requires the prosecution to place its reasons for exercising peremptory challenges on the record, an appellate court skips the first two steps of the Batson analysis and goes straight to considering the credibility of the prosecution’s stated reasons and whether the record as a whole reveals a discriminatory motive for removing even a single prospective juror. The court found that there was no valid basis to strike at least one of the Black women. Moreover, there were several reasons why the struck panel member should have been an “ideal juror” from the prosecution’s perspective. The prosecutor’s stated reason for striking the juror “didn’t hold up" and appeared to be based on impermissible discrimination.

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