What Is the Procedure That Must Be Followed for Challenging Peremptory Strikes ?

Under Melbourne v. State, 679 So. 2d 759 (Fla. 1996), the following procedure must be followed for challenging peremptory strikes: (1) the objecting party must make a timely objection, must show that the venireperson is a member of a distinct racial group, and must request that the court ask the striking party the reasons for the strike; (2) if step (1) is met, the court must ask the proponent of the strike to explain the reason for the strike; (3) if the reason given is facially race-neutral and the court believes that given all the circumstances surrounding the strike, the explanation is not a pretext, the strike will be sustained. In step (3), the court's focus is on the genuineness and not the reasonableness of the explanation. Further, the relevant circumstances that the court is to consider in determining whether the explanation is pretextual include such factors as the racial makeup of the venire; prior strikes exercised against the same racial group; a strike based on a reason equally applicable to an unchallenged venireperson; or singling out the venireperson for special treatment. Id. at 764 n.8. On appeal, peremptory challenges are presumed to be exercised in a nondiscriminatory manner, but the trial court's decision, which turns primarily on an assessment of credibility, will be affirmed on appeal unless clearly erroneous. Id. at 764.