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Name: People v. Lenix
Case #: S148029
Court: CA Supreme Court
District CalSup
Opinion Date: 07/24/2008

In reviewing a claim of error at Wheeler/Batson’s third stage, comparative juror analysis must be considered by the reviewing court when the appellant relies on such an analysis and the record is adequate for the reviewing court to conduct an analysis, even if the analysis was not conducted in the trial court. At trial, when a claim that a potential juror is excluded on the basis of racial bias, the defendant must make a prima facie showing that the prosecutor has exercised a peremptory challenge based on race. If the showing is made, the burden shifts to the prosecutor to demonstrate that the challenge is race-neutral. The court then determines whether the defendant has proven purposeful discrimination. (Batson v. Kentucky (1986) 476 U.S. 79.) In this case, the prosecutor exercised a peremptory challenge to strike C.A., a Black woman. When challenged, the prosecutor stated that C.A.’s responses to questions regarding involvement with law enforcement and whether the nature of the case was problematic, caused him to be uncomfortable with her as a juror. The trial court found that the prosecutor’s challenge was not race based. On appeal, appellant argued that the prosecutor’s stated reasons were pretextural and bolstered the argument by relying on comparative juror analysis – comparing the responses of seated juror no. 482753 to those of C.A. Adopting the U.S. Supreme Court’s acceptance of comparative juror analysis, even when not raised at the trial level, the Court examined the entire record, including the juror questionnaires, and found that based on the totality of the evidence, the prosecutor’s stated reasons for excusing C.A. were supported. (Miller-El v. Dretke (2005) 545 U.S. 231 and Snyder v. Louisiana (2008) __ U.S. __, [128 S.Ct. 1203].)