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Name: People v. Gomez
Case #: G025635
Opinion Date: 08/31/2001
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 3
Citation: 92 Cal.App.4th 1
Summary

The court found Wheeler error (People v. Wheeler (1978) 22 Cal.3d 258) where the prosecutor used one peremptory challenge against a Hispanic prospective juror who stated her husband was a painter. The offered justification for the challenge was that the prosecutor assumed her husband was a painter of pictures (although defense counsel said he took her answer to mean house painter). The prosecutor had just finished with a jury which included a member whose husband was a philosopher, and “anyone close to painting, philosophy, acting, I don’t like to keep…” The husband was described by the prosecutor as “a little bit too liberal for me.” The trial court said it was not unreasonable for the People to infer that the husband was a painter of art and that somehow branded him as a liberal. The Court of Appeal labeled the prosecutor’s explanation as almost surreal logic (even the dissent called it “one truly loony excuse”). Stating, “Take that, Mary Matalin and James Carville!” the majority noted that the assumption that one with a liberal spouse must share those views was pure speculation. It also questioned the underlying assumption that a painter must be an artist, who in turn must be a liberal, who in turn must be antagonistic to the prosecution.