Striking Potential Jurors on Racial Basis In Arkansas

The defense objected to the State striking two potential jurors, one being a Hispanic male and the other a black male. The trial court held a hearing in chambers on the defense's objection. At the hearing, the State tendered a racially neutral basis for its decision, and the trial court overruled the defense's objection. This situation is controlled by the ruling in Mackintrush v. State, 334 Ark. 390, 978 S.W.2d 293 (1998). In Mackintrush the Arkansas Supreme Court, in reviewing Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79, 90 L. Ed. 2d 69, 106 S. Ct. 1712 (1986), set forth a three-step procedure for the trial court to make a decision on the ruling. Here, as required in Mackintrush, the Arkansas Supreme Court shifted the burden to compel the State to show a race-neutral explanation and once it was tendered by the State, the trial court reasoned that there was no discriminatory intent by the State. the trial court was correct in its ruling.