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Name: People v. Jaime (2023) 91 Cal.App.5th 941
Case #: C096022
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 05/19/2023
Summary

Trial court prejudicially erred when it concluded the People’s peremptory challenge was valid because the prosecutor provided no evidence to rebut the presumptively invalid reasons for exercising the challenge. During Jaime’s criminal trial, the prosecutor exercised a peremptory challenge against a juror whose cousin was prosecuted by the same district attorney’s office for murder. The juror had also heard the current district attorney speak to her class as a child and her cousin’s case was discussed. The defense made a Batson/Wheeler motion, which the trial court denied. On appeal, Jaime argued the People’s peremptory challenge was invalid under Penal Code section 231.7. The People did not dispute that they exercised a peremptory challenge for a presumptively invalid reason under section 231.7: their explicit basis for excusing the juror was her previous “negative experience with law enforcement” and her “close relationship with people who have been . . . convicted of a crime.” (§ 231.7, subd. (e)(1), (3).) However, the People argued that Jaime forfeited this argument because he did not specifically object under section 231.7 or correct the court’s error in applying Batson/Wheeler. Held: Reversed and remanded for a new trial. Based on the circumstances of this case, the Court of Appeal concluded that the futility exception to the forfeiture rule applied. Even though the People informed the trial court about the new law, the court still analyzed the objection under the Batson/Wheeler framework. The prosecutor provided no evidence to rebut the presumptively invalid reasons for exercising the peremptory challenge and the trial court prejudicially erred by concluding the challenge was proper.

The full opinion is available on the court’s website here: https://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/documents/C096022.PDF