Jury Selection Batson Challenges In Missouri

Examining Missouri Court's death penalty cases from the state's three largest jurisdictions, the city of St. Louis, St. Louis County, and Jackson County since the death penalty was reinstated in 1977, the following are found: 12 of 26 cases in the City of St. Louis, seven of 17 cases in St. Louis County, and four of 12 cases in Jackson County contained Batson challenges. In examining all reported criminal appeals since 1995 that contain Batson challenges, it appears that there have been about 100 such cases. Of those concerning race, two were remanded to the trial court to conduct a proper Batson hearing. Only one reported case was found that was remanded for new trial because the appellate court sustained the Batson challenge. If Batson has any effect in this state, it is simply trial court law where even rumors of sustained Batson challenges are hard to come by. Large-scale empirical studies seem to be lacking as to the effect of Batson on racial discrimination. But studies examined to date show either no effect or only a very limited effect on the use of peremptory challenges to discriminate. David C. Baldus, the Use of Peremptory Challenges in Capital Murder Trials: a Legal and Empirical Analysis, U. Pa. J. Const. L., February, 2001, at 34. A study of capital murder cases tried by juries over a 16-year period in Philadelphia found that Batson had no effect on prosecutorial strikes against African-American venire members. Id. at 70.