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Name: People v. Arias (2024) 101 Cal.App.5th 1163
Case #: A164789
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 05/10/2024

Where the record failed to support the trial court’s unexplained third-stage ruling that the peremptory challenge of a juror was not discriminatory, reversal was required. In a child molestation case, the defense made a Batson/Wheeler motion as to the prosecutor’s striking of a Black prospective juror. The trial court accepted the prosecutor’s reasons for the striking, and denied the motion. However, the prosecutor’s first reason was unsupported by the record, the second reason was “deeply troubling,” and the third reason was of apparently minor significance to the prosecutor. The trial court’s uncritical crediting of these reasons was unreasonable given the record of voir…

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Name: People v. Lopez
Case #: B305783
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 7
Opinion Date: 06/14/2021

The trial court abused its discretion in concealing the names of prospective jurors from counsel, but the error was harmless. Lopez was charged with murder (Pen. Code, § 187, subd. (a)) and gross vehicular manslaughter (§ 191.5, subd. (a)) for crashing into a parked car while driving under the influence of alcohol and killing the sole occupant. During voir dire, the trial court withheld from the attorneys the names of prospective jurors, identifying them only by their badge number, out of a concern the attorneys or a member of the public or press would obtain additional information about the jurors…

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Name: Flowers v. Mississippi
Case #: 17-9572
Court: US Supreme Court
District USSup
Opinion Date: 06/21/2019
Subsequent History: 139 S.Ct. 2228

Based on the extraordinary facts and circumstances of this case, the trial court committed clear error by concluding the State's peremptory challenge of a black juror in defendant's Sixth trial was not motivated in substantial part by discriminatory intent. Flowers was tried six separate times for the murder of four employees of a Mississippi furniture store. Flowers is black. Three of the four victims were white. Three of Flower's previous trials ended in convictions, but the convictions were reversed based on prosecutorial misconduct during one trial and Batson violations in the other two. Two trials ended in mistrials. At…

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Name: United States v. Kechedzian
Case #: 16-50326
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 09/04/2018

Trial court committed reversible error when it failed to excuse a challenged juror who demonstrated an actual bias. During voir dire at appellant's trial in federal court for charges of aggravated identity theft and related offenses, the district court refused to dismiss a prospective juror for bias even though the juror never affirmatively stated she could be impartial. Juror #3 disclosed that she was a victim of identity theft and was asked three times if she could be impartial, and each time she replied equivocally: "I might be able to put that aside"; "I would want to put my personal…

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Name: People v. Asbury
Case #: B255953
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 10/04/2016

Trial court did not commit reversible error by limiting the defense to 25 minutes of questioning during jury voir dire. Asbury appealed her murder conviction, arguing that the trial court committed reversible error by limiting her trial counsel to 25 minutes of voir dire. Trial counsel ultimately ran out of time and the court prohibited him from asking more questions, but the trial court did agree to ask any new potential jurors the questions defense counsel had asked the other jurors. Held: Affirmed. "[W]here . . . the trial judge so limits the scope of voir dire that the procedure…

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Name: Shirley v. Yates
Case #: 13-16273
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 11/20/2015

Circumstantial evidence of a prosecutor's general jury selection approach was insufficient to overcome a prima facie case of purposeful discrimination. Shirley was convicted of burglary and robbery. He received a life sentence under the Three Strikes law. His convictions were affirmed in state court. He sought federal habeas relief on a Batson v. Kentucky (1986) 476 U.S. 79 claim. The district court found Shirley had made a prima facie showing of discrimination and heard testimony from the prosecutor regarding his reasons for the strikes. The prosecutor did not recall his actual reasons, but testified regarding his standard approach to jury…

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Name: Castellanos v. Small
Case #: 12-55783
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 09/09/2014

Murder conviction reversed where prosecution's reason for striking Hispanic juror was pretextual. Petitioner was convicted in California of murder and other offenses, committed when he was 17 years old. On appeal, the state court rejected his claim the prosecution improperly exercised four peremptory strikes against potential Hispanic jurors. Petitioner sought federal relief. Held: Reversed. Under AEDPA the federal court will not overturn a state court decision unless it is contrary to clearly established U.S. Supreme Court precedent or constitutes an unreasonable application of the facts. The clearly established federal law in this case is Batson v. Kentucky (1986) 476 U.S.…

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Name: Smith v. Swarthout
Case #: 11-17116
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 02/10/2014

Defendant did not show that juror's failure to disclose that he knew defendant was intentional, or that a correct response would have provided a valid challenge for cause. Smith assaulted his wife and forced a number of pills down her throat. He was charged with attempted murder and other offenses. A jury convicted him of corporal injury to his spouse and criminal threats; he admitted two strike priors. Smith received a life sentence. On appeal from denial of his federal writ petition, Smith made a number of claims involving jury misconduct. Held: Affirmed. To obtain a new trial based on…

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Name: People v. Sorrels et al.
Case #: B224166
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 8
Opinion Date: 08/24/2012

The trial court did not err by providing an objective description of the offense to be tried, which included admonitions that the statement was not evidence and the prosecution had the burden of proof, to prospective jurors at the beginning of voir dire. Appellants were convicted of murder and various firearm and gang enhancements were found true. On appeal, they contended that the trial court committed misconduct by reading a statement over defense objections describing the offense to prospective jurors at the beginning of voir dire. According to appellants, the statement amounted to a second opening statement on behalf of…

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Name: U.S. v. Lindsey
Case #: 09-50459
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 01/14/2011

Where there is an erroneous deprivation of a defendant's right of peremptory challenge and there is no objection, the error is subject to plain error analysis. The trial court miscounted and appellant received only nine of ten peremptory challenges. Defense counsel did not object. Pursuant to prior Ninth Circuit case law, that would have been grounds for automatic reversal. (U.S. v. Annigoni (9th Cir. 1996) 96 F.3d 1132.) But, the Ninth Circuit reconsidered its position after the high court's recent decision in Rivera v. Illinois (2009) 129 S.Ct. 1446, which held that the loss of a peremptory challenge due…

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