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What is a Batson Challenge?

The Landmark Case of Batson v. Kentucky

Nearly 35 years ago, the United States Supreme Court made a landmark decision regarding racial discrimination during the jury selection process in the case of Batson v. Kentucky. James Batson, the defendant in this case, is an African American man who was convicted of criminal charges in a Kentucky state court by an all-white jury. The issue here is not exactly that it was an all-white jury that convicted him; rather it was how the jury that was seated for this trial was chosen. During the jury selection of this case, the Prosecutor eliminated every potential juror who was black by using peremptory challenges. Both the prosecution and defense are given a set number of peremptory challenges which can be used during jury selection to eliminate jurors without having to give any reason on the record. The Supreme Court ruled in Batson that a peremptory challenge cannot be used to eliminate a juror from a jury panel if the juror was eliminated for a race-based reason. The Court further stated that the Prosecutor’s actions violated the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution’s Fourteenth Amendment. The ruling in Batson brought the protections of the Equal Protection Clause into the jury selection process of every criminal case. With racial tension being as high in this country as ever, it is important to discuss this possibility with an experienced criminal defense attorney

Making a Successful Batson Challenge

Batson challenges are made during the jury selection portion of any state or federal criminal trial. If a prosecutor uses a peremptory challenge to eliminate a potential juror and it appears that the use of the challenge was due to racial reasons, then a Batson challenge can be made by the defense. When the defense makes a Batson challenge, they have to lay a foundation to the judge of why they believe that the prosecutor had a race-based reason for using the peremptory challenge to remove that specific juror. If the judge feels enough of a showing has been made by the defense, he or she will then direct the Prosecutor to explain why that specific juror was eliminated. The Prosecutor will then give reasons (other than race) why he or she chose to remove the potential juror. If the judge believes the Prosecutor, then the juror the Prosecutor removed will simply be replaced with the next juror called. If the judge believes that the Prosecutor violated Batson, then either the judge will allow the juror to stay on the jury or the judge will strike the entire jury panel and start the jury selection process over. If you have any further questions regarding your own case, then call us today at Snow Legal.

Call Today for a Consultation with Snow Legal

If you are facing state or federal criminal charges, it is important to speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. The attorneys at Snow Legal are proud to offer a initial consultation to anyone facing the potential of criminal charges. Let our experience help guide you towards taking the strongest possible approach in your defense. Call us today at (704) 358-0026 or contact us online.