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Name: People v. Reynoso
Case #: F034873
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 5 DCA
Opinion Date: 12/03/2001
Subsequent History: Rev. granted 2/20/02. Depublished.
Summary

Appellant’s murder conviction was reversed where the appellate court found Wheeler error. The prosecutor said that he excused a Hispanic prospective juror for two reasons, the first of which was that she was a customer service representative and lacked educational experience. The appellate court here noted that the prosecutor had no information at all about the prospective juror’s education, and held that the reason given bears similarity to the hollow and insufficient reason given in People v. Turner (1986) 42 Cal.3d 711. More importantly, the prosecutor did not articulate how these failings related to jury service in this case. The prosecutor also claimed that it seemed like the prospective juror was not paying attention to the proceedings, and he felt that she would not be involved in the process. However, defense counsel argued that there was absolutely nothing in the voir dire proceedings to support that claim, and the court, in its evaluation of the reasons given, did not mention this second reason given by the prosecutor at all. Relying heavily on the Supreme Court’s analysis in People v. Silva (2001) 25 Cal.4th 345, the Court of Appeal found that, while the record here did not contradict the prosecutor’s stated reasons, it nevertheless did not support the prosecutor’s reasons, and thus does not engender confidence in a finding that the trial court engaged in a sincere and reasoned attempt to evaluate the prosecutor’s justification for challenge. Trial courts should not relieve prosecutors of their burden during a Wheeler motion by readily accepting vague explanations.