November 30, 2012
Batson v. Kentucky 476 U.S. (1986)
James Kirkland Batson, was an African American man convicted of second degree burglary and receiving stolen goods in Louisville, Kentucky. Before the trial, the judge conducted a voir dire examination of the jury. The judge dismissed several potential jurors for various causes. Afterward, the prosecutor used his peremptory challenges to excuse all the remaining black jurors, leaving a jury composed entirely of white jurors. Batson’s attorney move to dismiss the jury stating that it violated his client’s 6th and 14th Amendments guarantees of a jury drawn from a cross section of the community. Statutory Provision
Fourteenth Amendment Equal Protection Clause
Is the use of peremptory challenges in a criminal trial to remove members from a jury selection solely on the basis of race a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment Equal Protection Clause? Legal Reasoning
* The Court recognizes in Swain v. Alabama that a "State's purposeful or deliberate denial to Negroes on account of race of participation as jurors in the administration of justice violates the Equal Protection Clause. (1172) * The Court decided in Strauder v. West Virginia that the “State denies a black defendant equal protection of the laws when it puts him on trial before a jury from which members of his race have been purposefully excluded.” (1173) * It is also recognized in Strauder v. West Virginia that the “A defendant has no right to a petit jury composed in whole or in part of persons of his own race. But the defendant does have the right to be tried by a jury whose members are selected pursuant to non-discriminatory criteria.” The Equal Protection Clause guarantees the defendant that the State will not exclude members of his race from the jury selection on account of race. (1173) * Purposeful racial...