''Legitimate Reasons'' to Strike a Juror In Texas

What is meant by a "legitimate reason" is not a reason that makes sense but a reason that does not deny equal protection. See id. In Morris v. State, 940 S.W.2d 610, 612 (Tex. Crim. App.1996), cert. denied, 520 U.S. 1278, 138 L. Ed. 2d 218, 117 S. Ct. 2461 (1997), the court wrote, "A ruling on a Batson objection is a credibility determination." Any reason for the peremptory challenge may be given, so long as it is not racially discriminatory or found to be a pretext for discrimination. Batson, 476 U.S. at 97. Thus, the explanation must be reasonably specific and facially neutral. If it is not a general denial or racially based, the explanation can be silly, superstitious, fantastic, or implausible. It need not be minimally persuasive. See Purkett, 514 U.S. at 768. "Unless a discriminatory intent is inherent in the prosecutor's explanation, the reason offered will be deemed race-neutral." Hernandez, 500 U.S. at 360. The reviewing court may utilize certain factors in making a determination whether the proffered race-neutral reasons are supported by the record, as well as the trial court's findings. See Williams v. State, 804 S.W.2d 95, 105-06 (Tex. Crim. App.), cert. denied, 501 U.S. 1239, 115 L. Ed. 2d 1038, 111 S. Ct. 2875 (1991). One factor is that the reason given is not related to the facts of the case. Williams, 804 S.W.2d at 106. Another is that there was a lack of questioning of the challenged juror or a lack of meaningful questions. Id. Another is an explanation based on a group bias where the group trait is not shown to apply to the challenged juror specifically. Id. These factors may be equally applicable under the clearly erroneous standard of review. Id. A neutral explanation means it is based on something other than the race of the juror. Hernandez v. New York, 500 U.S. at 360 (1991). The issue is the facial validity of the attorney's explanation. "Unless a discriminatory intent is inherent in the proponent's explanation, the reason offered will be deemed neutral." Id. "The second step of this process does not demand an explanation that is persuasive, or even plausible." Purkett, 514 U.S. at 767-68. However, the proponent of a strike cannot merely deny that he had a discriminatory motive or merely affirm his good faith.