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Name: People v. Semien
Case #: C053802
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 04/30/2008

The prosecutor did not violate appellant’s constitutional rights by excusing a black juror whose wife worked in the county welfare department. During appellant’s trial for assault on a police officer, the prosecutor used a peremptory challenge to excuse an African American pastor who dealt with homeless people and whose wife worked in the county welfare department. The pastor was the sole African American among the prospective jurors. The prosecutor explained her reasoning by stating that she felt that the pastor would take into consideration his sympathy for a defendant. The trial court denied appellant’s Batson/Wheeler motion. The appellate court concluded that appellant failed to show grounds for reversal.
Substantial evidence supported the trial court’s decision that the prosecutor’s reasons for excusing the pastor were legitimate and race-neutral. Appellant also argued that the evidence was insufficient to support the jury’s finding that his prior conviction for assault on a peace officer in violation of section 245, subdivision (c) was a serious felony within the meaning of the three strikes law. Assault on a police officer in violation of section 245, subdivsion (c) is a serious felony under the three strikes law regardless of whether a deadly weapon was used.