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Name: People v. Johnson
Case #: S127602
Court: CA Supreme Court
District CalSup
Opinion Date: 06/26/2006

Remedy for Batson violation is limited remand. Johnson’s original conviction for murder and assault was reversed because the appellate court found that prosecution improperly challenged three African-American jurors and the trial court erred when it failed to find a prima facie case of group bias. The Supreme Court granted review and upheld the trial court’s ruling, remanding to the Court of Appeal for further proceedings. The second time, the appellate court affirmed, and the Supreme Court denied review. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari, limited to the question regarding the applicable test to establish a prima facie case, and reversed. It held that California’s “more likely than not” standard is an inappropriate measure of the sufficiency of a prima facie case, and held that Batson is satisfied by production of evidence sufficient to permit the trial judge to draw an inference of discrimination. It held that the inferences in this case were sufficient under Batson, and remanded to the California Supreme Court for further proceedings. The Supreme Court remanded to the appellate court with instructions to remand to the trial court. Due to the passage of time, it is possible that the trial court may not be able to reliably determine whether the use of peremptory challenges here was proper. However, the court should give the prosecutor a chance to offer explanations for his challenges. If the court determines that the use of peremptory challenges was improper or that reliability is an issue, a new trial should be ordered. If the challenges are deemed proper, the judgment should be reinstated.