The Third Department reversed defendant’s conviction because the prosecutor refused to give a race-neutral reason for striking a nonwhite juror. The prosecutor argued that no reason need be provided for juror no. 2 because juror no. 2 was the first nonwhite juror to be struck. The Third Department noted that the judge asked for race-neutral reasons after defense counsel objected to a pattern of striking four nonwhite jurors. Therefore, the judge had implicitly concluded defense counsel had made a prima facie showing of discrimination. At that point the prosecutor was obligated to provide race-neutral reasons for striking all four nonwhite jurors, including juror no. 2:
“The purpose of the Batson rule is to eliminate discrimination, not minimize it” … . Accordingly, because “[t]he exclusion of any [nonwhite prospective jurors] solely because of their race is constitutionally forbidden” … , a defendant asserting a Batson challenge need not show a pattern of discrimination. “Although as part of their prima facie case parties often rely on numbers to show a pattern of strikes against a particular group of jurors, a prima facie case may be made based on the peremptory challenge of a single juror that gives rise to an inference of discrimination” … .
Here, County Court implicitly concluded that defendant had made a prima facie showing of discrimination as to all four of the jurors in question, and the burden then shifted to the People to provide race-neutral explanations for all four — not just three — of the nonwhite prospective jurors against whom the People asserted peremptory challenges. Given the People’s failure to provide — and County Court’s failure to require — such an explanation as to all four prospective jurors, defendant is entitled to a new trial. People v Jones, 2016 NY Slip Op 01212, 3rd Dept 2-18-16
CRIMINAL LAW (PROSECUTOR’S REFUSAL TO PROVIDE A RACE-NEUTRAL REASON FOR STRIKING A JUROR REQUIRED REVERSAL)/JURORS (BATSON CHALLENGE, PROSECUTOR’S FAILURE TO PROVIDE A RACE-NEUTRAL REASON REQUIRED REVERSAL)/BATSON CHALLENGE (PROSECUTOR’S REFUSAL TO PROVIDE A RACE-NEUTRAL REASON REQUIRED REVERSAL)