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Name: People v. Phillips
Case #: C050503
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 02/14/2007

In considering a Wheeler motion (People v. Wheeler (1978) 22 Cal.3d 258), the focus of the court’s inquiry is whether a particular prospective juror has been challenged by the prosecution because of group bias and not whether there is a pattern of systematic exclusion. (People v. Avila (2006) 38 Cal.4th 491.) A defendant who objects to the prosecution’s use of a peremptory challenge must make a prima facie showing giving rise to an inference of a discriminatory purpose as to the excused juror and the burden then shifts to the prosecution to justify the challenge. Here, after the prosecution exercised three of four peremptory challenges to excuse African-American prospective jurors, the defense made a Batson-Wheeler motion. The court did not require an explanation as to one of the jurors, noting that the juror had stated that she had numerous family members involved in crime, etc. With this statement, the trial court expressly determined that the exclusion did not evidence discrimination so as to require justification; i.e., that the defense had not met its burden of making a prima facie showing.