State v. Valdez

In State v. Valdez, 2004 UT App 214, 95 P.3d 291, the Utah Court of Appeals dramatically expanded the scope of Harrison by ruling that "a district court may consider a defendant's Batson challenge beyond the dismissal of the venire." The Court of appeals stated, "So long as it 'allows counsel to proceed with their Batson arguments,' the district court impliedly finds good cause under rule 18 to consider the constitutional claim." Id. Because the district court requested that the State respond to Valdez's Batson challenge despite the State's timeliness objection, the court of appeals held that the district court had impliedly found good cause to allow the Batson challenge under rule 18(c)(2). Id. The court of appeals erred as a matter of law in holding that Valdez's Batson challenge was timely under rule 18(c)(2) because rule 18(c)(2) is inapplicable on its face to Batson challenges. By its terms, rule 18(c)(2) provides procedural guidelines for a litigant's peremptory or for cause "challenge to an individual juror." Utah R. Crim. P. 18(c)(2) . In other words, rule 18(c)(2) provides a time-frame in which a litigant may choose to exercise a peremptory or for cause challenge to remove an individual juror from the venire. Id. Under rule 18(c)(2), a litigant who wishes to remove a juror with either a peremptory or for cause challenge may only do so before the jury is sworn unless the trial court finds good cause to allow a challenge afterward. Id. In any event, a litigant may not remove a juror with a peremptory or for cause challenge once evidence has been presented. Id.