Were the constitutional right of the defendant and the jurors violated because the court erred in allowing the State Attorney to raise discriminatory peremptory challenge based on racial and gender grounds?
The constitutional right to due process, and equal protection of the law were violated when the trial Judge erred in permitting the State Attorney to raise peremptory challenges base on racial and gender grounds. The constitution of the United States under U.S. Const. Amend. 14, § 1, establishes that “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”. See U.S. Const. Amend. 14, § 1.
The U.S. Supreme Court, in a case in which a white defendant was convicted of murder, aggravated murder, and attempted murder by an all-white jury, “declined to permit an objection to the peremptory challenge of a juror on racial grounds as a Sixth Amendment matter.” Powers v. Ohio, 499 U.S. 400, 409 (1991). Additionally, the U.S. Supreme Court held that “racial exclusion of prospective jurors violates the overriding command of the Equal Protection Clause, and ‘race-based exclusion is no more permissible at the individual petit jury stage than at the venire stage.’” Id. at 409 (Quoting Holland v. Illinois, 493 U.S. 474, 479 (1990)).
In Powers the court also held that “the Equal Protection Clause prohibits a prosecutor from using the State 's peremptory challenges to exclude otherwise qualified and unbiased persons from the petit jury solely by reason of their race, a practice that forecl...
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...s of the explanation but rather its genuineness. Throughout this process, the burden of persuasion never leaves the opponent of the strike to prove purposeful racial discrimination.”
Melbourne v. State, 679 So. 2d 759, 764 (Fla. 1996).
The Supreme Court of Florida has held that the party challenging the use of peremptory challenges, in addition to object to the discriminatory use of peremptory challenges in a timely fashion, he or she must renew the objection before the jury is sworn. See Melbourne, 679 So. 2d at 764-65. (Finding that Melbourne failed to preserve this issue for review because she did not renew her objection before the jury was sworn.)
In State v. Slappy, 522 So. 2d 18 (Fla. 1988) the U.S. Sup. Court held that "Any doubt as to whether the complaining party has met its initial burden should be resolved in [the complaining] party 's favor." Id. at 22.
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