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Name: People v. Cisneros
Case #: B247844
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 7
Opinion Date: 01/28/2015

Prosecutor’s stated reason for striking two male jurors—that she preferred the next prospective jurors more than the ones being challenged—was not an adequate gender-neutral explanation under Batson/Wheeler. Cisneros was charged with multiple offenses, including sexual intercourse with a minor (Pen. Code, § 261.5, subd. (c)) and making criminal threats (Pen. Code, § 422) based on evidence that he had sex with his girlfriend when she was 17 (and he was 36) and that he threatened to kill her during an argument. During jury voir dire, the defense made multiple Batson/Wheeler motions because the prosecutor exercised peremptory challenges against seven male jurors. Relevant to this appeal, the prosecutor stated that she struck two of the male jurors because she preferred the next prospective jurors more. The trial court denied the Batson/Wheeler motions. Cisneros was convicted and appealed. Held: Reversed. After a defendant makes a prima facie showing that a preemptory challenge has been exercised on the basis of sex, the prosecutor must offer a gender-neutral basis for striking the juror. Here, the prosecutor failed to carry her burden. She did not identify any personal characteristics about the challenged jurors that led to the decision to excuse them. The stated reason—that she preferred the next prospective jurors more than the ones being challenged—was effectively no reason at all because anytime a prosecutor peremptorily challenges a juror, it necessarily means that he or she prefers the next prospective juror. “The prosecutor’s failure to articulate anything about [the two male jurors] as the basis for striking them after the trial court had found a prima facie case of group bias did not nothing [sic] to dispel the reasonable inference the prosecutor preferred women to men and was exercising her peremptory challenges to effect that preference.”