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Name: People v. Johnson
Case #: S097600
Court: CA Supreme Court
District CalSup
Opinion Date: 06/30/2003
Subsequent History: None

During the jury selection in appellant’s second degree murder case, the prosecutor exercised 12 peremptory challenges, including challenges to all three African-American jurors. The Court of Appeal reversed on Wheeler grounds, finding that the “strong likelihood” standard the court applied violated Batson v. Kentucky. The California Supreme Court granted review, and reversed the decision of the Court of Appeal, finding that California’s jury procedures regarding peremptory challenges do not violate the constitution as defined by Batson. The language of Wheeler, which requires a “strong likelihood” and a “reasonable inference” of group bias, refer to the same test, which is consistent with Batson. Under both Wheeler and Batson the objector must show that it is more likely than not the other party’s peremptory challenges were based on impermissible group bias. Further, Batson does not require state reviewing courts to engage in comparative juror analysis for the first time on appeal. Applying California’s procedures, which satisfy Batson, to this case, the Court upheld the trial court’s finding that appellant failed to establish a prima facie case that the prosecutor used his peremptory challenges improperly. [Editor’s note: 9th Circuit disagrees with the Cal.Sup. Court on this issue.] J. Werdegar and Kennard dissented.