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REVERSED: Prosecutor's Excusal of Jurors Illegal

California v. Jaime Court: California Courts of Appeal, Docket: C096022 (Third Appellate District), Opinion Date: May 19, 2023. Recognizing the limitations of the Batson/Wheeler inquiry, the California Legislature enacted Assembly Bill No. 3070 (2019-2020 Reg. Sess.) to add Code of Civil Procedure section 231.7, which created new procedures for identifying unlawful discrimination in the use of peremptory challenges. Jury selection for the trial of defendant Moises Jamie Jaime (for two counts of transporting controlled substances and two counts of possessing controlled substances for sale) began two months after section 231.7 became applicable. A prospective juror ("L.") asked to speak privately with the court and parties. In a private hearing, L. disclosed that her “cousin was actually convicted of murder in this court” and that the current district attorney spoke to her class when she was a child and “ended up bringing up [her] cousin’s trial in class before it had gone to trial.” She further disclosed that she spoke with a lawyer about the district attorney’s conduct. The prosecutor later exercised a peremptory challenge against L. After a jury found defendant guilty on all four counts, the trial court placed defendant on two years of formal probation. On appeal, defendant’s principal argument was that the Court of Appeal had to reverse the judgment and remand the case for a new trial because the State's peremptory challenge was presumptively invalid under section 231.7 and the State offered no evidence to overcome that presumption. The Court determined the prosecutor provided no evidence to rebut the presumptively invalid reasons for exercising the peremptory challenge, and the trial court prejudicially erred by allowing it. Judgment was reversed and the matter remanded for a new trial.

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Dear Nick, I hope this letter finds you well. I wanted to take a moment to express my sincere gratitude for the effort and care you put into helping my son earn his freedom again. It was not an easy road, but your unwavering commitment to his rehabilitation truly made all the difference. Your guidance and support were truly invaluable to my son during his time in prison. You provided him with the self-help materials and worked alongside him to ensure that he fully understood the material. You took all his calls and never gave up on him, even when the going got tough. It is inspiring to see your dedication to helping those who are in need and it gives me comfort to know that there are people like you who are committed to making a positive impact on the lives of others. Thanks to your tireless work, my son is now on the path to a better life and has a renewed sense of optimism for his future. We cannot express enough how grateful we are to you for all the support and encouragement you have given him. Please accept our sincerest thanks for everything you have done to help my son. Your kindness and generosity have truly made all the difference to our family. With heartfelt appreciation, -- Dora G.

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