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Name: Paulino v. Castro
Case #: 02-55924
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 06/14/2004

A defendant’s agreement to talk to an officer, following an advisement of his right to silence and counsel under Miranda, is sufficient to constitute a waiver of the right to counsel even where the defendant does not specifically waive that right. The court held that defendant’s subsequent questions about how long it was going to take a lawyer to get there did not render his statements involuntary or invoke the right to counsel. However, the court next held that where the evidence showed a clear pattern of striking black jurors, a plausible inference of discrimination existed and required the prosecutor to show race-neutral reasons for the dismissals. At the time that defense counsel raised a Batson/Wheeler objection, the prosecutor had exercised six peremptories, five of them against black jurors, and had accepted only one black juror. The trial court did not permit counsel to explain the reason for his objection and did not require the prosecutor to explain his decisions, but instead outlined race-neutral reasons why the jurors might have been dismissed. Only then did the court permit defense counsel to make a prima facie showing of discrimination. The California appellate court upheld the procedure under Wheeler. The Ninth Circuit reiterated that the Wheeler “strong likelihood” standard is impermissibly stringent, and held that the California court erred in applying that standard. Because the evidence clearly established a prima facie showing of discrimination, the court remanded for a hearing at which the prosecutor would be required to explain the dismissals.