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Name: People v. Uriostegui (2024) 101 Cal.App.5th 271
Case #: B325200
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 6
Opinion Date: 04/05/2024
Summary

A peremptory challenge violates Penal Code section 231.7 when a facially neutral reason to remove a juror is based on a presumptively invalid reason, absent certain permitted reasons and findings by the trial court. Appellant was charged with residential burglary. During voir dire, the prosecutor used a peremptory challenge to dismiss T.N., who had a Spanish surname, because of her “lack of life experience,” reasoning that T.N. was young, had worked at Taco Bell, was not currently employed, and seemed reluctant, timid, and malleable. The defense objected, arguing that the reasons were invalid under section 231.7. The trial court denied appellant’s objection. Appellant was convicted and appealed. Held: Reversed. Under section 231.7, presumptively invalid reasons for a peremptory challenge include the prospective juror’s “[l]ack of employment or underemployment,” and also include certain demeanor-based reasons, unless the demeanor is independently confirmed by the trial court and “matters to the case to be tried.” (§ 231.7(g)(2), (e)(11).) To allow a party to bury presumptively invalid reasons under an overarching facially neutral reason, such as “lack of life experience,” would render section 231.7 ineffective. Additionally, the prosecutor failed to show that the invalid reasons were unrelated to T.N.’s perceived ethnicity and the trial court failed to independently confirm the demeanor-based reasons. Under section 231.7, the error shall be deemed prejudicial, the judgment shall be reversed, and the case remanded for a new trial.

Dissent. Justice Gilbert would have held that the trial court necessarily concluded the prosecutor was not using the “lack of life experience” to conceal a presumptively invalid reason when it held that the peremptory challenge was not based on T.N.’s socio-economic status.