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Name: People v. Allen
Case #: B254084
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 6
Opinion Date: 06/17/2015
Summary

Trial court did not err in denying defendant’s Batson/Wheeler motions because the only basis for establishing a prima facie case of purposeful discrimination was that the prosecution struck three African-American potential jurors. Allen became obsessed with a man that she was having an affair with, and then concocted a bizarre plan to murder his common law wife and child. She attempted to carry out the plan but was thwarted by the man’s relatives. She was arrested and charged with a number of offenses and enhancements, including two counts of attempted premeditated murder. During jury voir dire, the prosecutor struck three potential jurors, who, like Allen, were African-American women. Allen’s counsel made two Batson/Wheeler motions, which the trial court denied on the basis that Allen failed to set forth a prima facie case of purposeful discrimination, the first step in the Batson/Wheeler analysis. After her conviction, Allen appealed. Held: Affirmed. For the first Batson/Wheeler motion, the trial court correctly found that the peremptory challenge of two African-American females, standing alone, did not make a prima facie case of purposeful discrimination. As to the second motion, the use of three peremptory challenges to strike female African-American prospective jurors did not support an inference of purposeful discrimination because the peremptory challenges were race neutral. Two African-American women and one African-American man remained on the jury, and an African-American man was selected as an alternate. Furthermore, the prosecutor’s proffered reason for striking the potential jurors (which were offered to “preserve the record”) was that each one indicated that she had a close family member with mental illness, which the prosecutor believed would make them sympathetic toward Allen. Comparative juror analysis also weighed against finding that the strikes were race-based.