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Name: People v. Hutchins
Case #: B187104
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 4
Opinion Date: 02/20/2007

During voir dire proceedings in appellant’s trial for multiple sex offenses, the prosecutor exercised a peremptory challenge to excuse a black juror, and appellant objected. Finding that appellant had made a prima facie showing of purposeful race discrimination, the court asked the prosecutor for her reasons for excluding the juror. The prosecutor said that it was because the juror had sat on a jury which hung, and that she had also excused another juror for the same reason. The court denied appellant’s Wheeler motion and motion to quash the jury panel, holding that there was not clear and convincing evidence of purposeful discrimination. On appeal, appellant argued that the court used the incorrect “clear and convincing evidence” standard in deciding the Wheeler motion. The appellate court agreed and reversed. The opponent of a peremptory challenge does not have the burden of proving purposeful race discrimination by clear and convincing evidence. Preponderance of evidence applies to the final step of a Wheeler/Batson challenge: whether the neutral reasons offered to justify a peremptory challenge are genuine or pretextual. Since it cannot be discerned from the record whether the court would have granted the motion if it had utilized the proper standard, remand was required.