Racial Bias During Jury Selection

The case of a former FBI agent convicted of wire and bankruptcy fraud is being remanded to the Federal District Court here in Nashville to make a ruling on racial bias during jury selection. Darin McAllister was convicted in 2010. However , the prosecutor used two of his peremptory challenges to excuse to black jurors. The first juror was excused because of a criminal conviction. In the case of the second black juror that was excused , the court did not make any findings of as to whether McAllister established the existence of purposeful race discrimination in the selection of his jury.

 

In Batson v. Kentucky, the United States Supreme Court held that the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment guarantees the defendant that the state will not exclude members of the defendant's race from the jury venire on account of race, or on the false assumption that members of the defendant's race , as a group are not qualified to serve as jurors.

The court established a three part test to determine if the state violated the defendant's DUE Process rights.

  1. The defendant must make out a prima facie case that the prosecutor has exercised a peremptory challenges on the basis of race.
  2. The burden shifts to the state to rebut the prima facie case showing by articulating  a race-neutral explanation for the strike.
  3. The trial court must then decide whether the opponent of the strike has proven purposeful discrimination.

In the McAllister case , the court failed to state their reasons for allowing the strike of the black juror. On remand , the trial judge will more than likely fix it's mistake.  Under Tennessee law, the trial judge must articulate specific reasons for their finding. Here , the judge failed to do so.

It appears that Mr.McAllister will fail on his appeal. However his criminal defense lawyer was on their toes are objected and preserved the issue on appeal. One fact to consider when hiring a Nashville criminal defense lawyer is to ask about jury trial experience. Which lawyer gets the better results a plea bargainer or a a lawyer willing to face twelve citizens are argue their case.

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