Batson-Wheeler Motion (California)

The California Supreme Court spelled out the procedures to be followed in deciding a Batson/Wheeler motion (Batson v. Kentucky (1986) 476 U.S. 79 and People v. Wheeler (1978) 22 Cal.3d 258) as follows: "There is a rebuttable presumption that a peremptory challenge is being exercised properly, and the burden is on the opposing party to demonstrate impermissible discrimination. To do so, a defendant must first 'make out a prima facie case "by showing that the totality of the relevant facts gives rise to an inference of discriminatory purpose." Second, once the defendant has made out a prima facie case, the "burden shifts to the State to explain adequately the racial . . . exclusion" by offering permissible race-neutral . . . justifications for the strikes. Third, "if a race-neutral . . . justification is tendered, the trial court must then decide . . . whether the opponent of the strike has proved purposeful . . . discrimination." ' The same three-step procedure applies to state constitutional claims. " (People v. Bonilla (2007) 41 Cal.4th 313, 341.) In determining whether the defendant ultimately has carried his burden of proving purposeful racial discrimination, implausible reasons or reasons contradicted by the record may be found to be pretexts for purposeful discrimination. (McClain v. Prunty (9th Cir. 2000) 217 F.3d 1209, 1221-1222; Caldwell v. Maloney (1st Cir. 1998) 159 F.3d 639, 651.) However, the justification offered need not be sufficient to support a challenge for cause, and even " 'trivial' " or " ' "highly speculative" ' " reasons, if genuine and neutral, will suffice. (People v. Arias (1996) 13 Cal.4th 92, 136; People v. Ervin (2000) 22 Cal.4th 48, 77.) "A prospective juror may be excused based upon facial expressions, gestures, hunches, and even for arbitrary or idiosyncratic reasons. " (People v. Lenix (2008) 44 Cal.4th 602, 613.)