The constitutional rights of Mr. Blake, due process and equal protection under the law, were violated when the trial Judge erred in permitting the State Attorney to raise peremptory challenges based on racial and gender grounds and failed to make the Neil inquiry. The constitution of the United States under U.S. Const. amend. XIV, § 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. XIV, § 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 pr...
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...the court never demanded a genuine non-discriminatory reason from the State Attorney.
At that stage, there was no certainty that at least one African-American or a woman would be in the Jury Panel. Consequently, this created a doubt as to whether or not this peremptory challenges were exercise based on a discriminatory pattern based on race or gender. The court expressed its doubt about whether the Defense was raising a valid issue (R. at 62). Therefore, the doubt was to be resolved in favor of the complaining parties, in this case the Defense, but the court never demanded a genuine non-discriminatory reason from the State Attorney. See Slappy , 522 So. 2d at 22. (“[A]ny doubt as to whether the complaining party has met its initial burden should be resolved in that party 's favor. If we are to err at all, it must be in the way least likely to allow discrimination.”)
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