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Name: People v. Gonzales
Case #: C054743
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 07/30/2008

Reversal was required where prosecutor’s reasons for excusing Hispanic jurors were not race-neutral. During voir dire, the prosecutor exercised his first four peremptory challenges on four prospective jurors with Hispanic surnames. Gonzales objected pursuant to Batson, and the trial court found a prima facie case. The prosecutor stated his reasons, (including that the jurors were Spanish-speaking and might not accept the testimony as translated by the interpreter), which the trial court accepted and denied Gonzales’s motion. On appeal, Gonzales contended that the trial court erred in accepting the prosecutor’s reasons for challenging two of the four jurors. The appellate court agreed and reversed. The stated basis for the peremptory challenges was strongly suspicious of being a ruse for excusing those persons who may be perceived as more closely identifying with their Hispanic ethnicity, i.e. those who still speak Spanish. The prosecutor’s other reasons were substantially unsupported by the record and implausible, particularly when considered in light of the prosecutor’s statement of a reason which was not race-neutral.