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Name: People v. Rushing
Case #: B216299
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 07/20/2011

No Batson/Wheeler error where prosecution uses peremptory challenge to excuse juror with religious bias and sympathy for gang members. Appellant and other Crips gang members were convicted of murder after beating a man to death for asking them to move so he could drive by the gang’s “Hood Day” party. During voir dire prospective juror #4 admitted religious preferences and said that another person’s beliefs or atheism might affect the way she evaluated a person, although she could nonetheless be fair. The defense asked her why people become gang members and she cited lacked of alternatives. When the prosecution excused prospective juror #4 (an African American), the defense made a Wheeler (People v. Wheeler (1978) 22 Cal.3d 707, 713) motion. The Court of Appeal found there were race neutral reasons for excusing juror #4, who expressed some sympathy for gang members and whose husband was a postal worker. Her prejudice against atheists might have prevented her from being a good juror. There was substantial evidence to support the trial court’s finding defendants failed to make out a prima facie case of Batson/Wheeler error.