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Name: Aleman v. Uribe
Case #: 09-56191
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 06/14/2013
Subsequent History: Amended 7/16/2013: 723 F.3d 976
Summary

Under AEDPA’s standard of review, prosecutor’s removal of Hispanic juror because he mistakenly believed she said she was “prissy” did not violate defendant’s constitutional rights. Appellants challenged the prosecutor’s reason for excusing one of four Hispanic jurors. The reason for dismissal was that Juror Acevedo said she was “too prissy” to be a police officer. To the prosecutor this suggested that she might be too sensitive for the violent details of the case. The trial court concluded that it was “not the strongest excuse” but that it was a valid race-neutral justification. Later, it was discovered that it was a different juror who had made the “prissy” comment. The trial court concluded that the prosecutor’s exclusion of juror Acevedo was based on an honest mistake and not on racial bias. The state court affirmed the convictions, concluding that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying the defendants’ Batson motion. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s denial of habeas corpus relief. Under AEDPA’s deferential standard, the state court did not violate the defendants’ constitutional rights by denying a Batson motion based on a prosecutor’s credible explanation that he made an honest mistake in exercising a peremptory challenge to dismiss the wrong juror. There was ample support in the record for the trial court’s determination that the prosecutor did not act with purposeful discrimination when he removed the juror, and that he made an honest mistake. The state court’s opinion that Batson was not violated was not an objectively unreasonable application of that case.