People v. Byrd, 2017 IL App (2d) 140715 (April). Episode 343 (Duration 5:07)
So when there is Batson violation, what is the appropriate remedy?
Defendant was convicted of being mentally ill and the murder and armed robbery of his mother.
Picking The Jury
He made a Batson challenge that was actually sustained by the court.
Race Neutral Reason
The State then offered its race-neutral explanation for challenging juror 21, stating that the juror’s brother had been arrested for a drug crime and the juror had visited him in jail.
The State maintained that the juror would closely identify with defendant’s sister, who had visited defendant in jail.
The State added that, when it questioned juror 21, she appeared to be defensive, in that she “had her brows knitted” and “had her arms crossed” in reaction to being asked whether the criminal justice system had been fair to her brother.
However, the judge let the jury go before the issue was resolved.
Race-Neutral Reason Rejected
The trial court then stated that it was rejecting the State’s race-neutral explanation for challenging juror 21 and found a Batson violation.
In doing so, the court noted that it did not observe juror 21 cross her arms or be antagonistic or hostile toward the State. The court added that, although juror 21 might not have completely understood the State’s questions, the court did not interpret that as animus or hostility.
When the judge finally held that there indeed was a Batson problem the juror was already gone.
As a remedy, since the juror could not be brought back the trial court then discharged the entire jury pool.
Defendant did not object or request that juror 21 be seated.
The court then stated that it had “declared a mistrial without prejudice.”
The next day when they were going to pick a brand new jury, defense counsel asked that jury 21 be brought back. After the trial court denied the motion to seat juror 21, defendant immediately moved to dismiss the case, contending that the Batson violation, combined with the State’s misrepresentation regarding the lack of potential remedies for that violation, resulted in the denial of his right to have a fair representation of his race on the jury.
The trial court denied the motion to dismiss.
He challenges the way his jury was picked.
The issue here is whether, under the particular circumstances, the trial court abused its discretion in denying defendant the remedy of seating juror 21.
In Batson, the Supreme Court commented on the possible remedies for the racially discriminatory use of a peremptory challenge. This rule also applies in Illinois trials.
In light of the variety of jury-selection practices followed by various state and federal courts, the Court expressed no view on whether, upon a finding of purposeful discrimination, the trial court should discharge the venire and select a jury from a new panel not previously associated with the case or disallow the peremptory challenge and resume selection with the improperly challenged juror reinstated on the venire.
Thus, the Court recognized two possible remedies for a Batson violation:
(1) seating the juror who was improperly challenged or
(2) discharging the venire and starting jury selection anew with another venire.
However, the Court did not state a preference for either remedy or discuss under what circumstances a particular remedy might be appropriate.
In Hunt v. Harrison, 303 Ill. App. 3d 54 (1999), the court addressed the issue of whether dismissal of a plaintiff’s case for a violation of Batson was a proper remedy. In holding that it was not, the court cited Batson.
More importantly, the court’s review of cases both in and out of Illinois revealed that, where a Batson violation is found, courts apply one of the two remedies identified in Batson.
The Hunt court did not address the issue of which of the two remedies identified in Batson, if either, is preferred.
In People v. Rivera, 307 Ill. App. 3d 821 (1999), the court held that the defendant’s peremptory challenge violated Batson. Rivera, 307 Ill. App. 3d at 831-32.
In so holding, the court noted, without expressing any preference for a particular remedy, that the impaneling of the challenged juror was an appropriate remedy in “[that] case.” Rivera merely recognized that seating a juror is one “possible remedy.”
The court in Rivera never suggested that seating a juror is the only remedy.
Thus, Rivera does not stand for the proposition that a court must always remedy a Batson violation by seating the juror. Because the law recognizes that there are at least two possible remedies, either seating the juror or discharging the entire venire, depending on the jury-selection practice being followed, it is necessarily a matter of discretion as to which remedy should be applied.
Notably, Defendant did not object to the court’s doing so.
Nor did defendant request that juror 21 be seated in the event that the court found a Batson violation.
Instead, defendant waited until the following day to move for juror 21 to be seated. By that time, however, juror 21 had been excused for more than 12 hours.
Thus, there was a significant risk that she had been exposed to information related to the case or had discussed the case. That alone was a proper reason for the court to refuse to seat juror 21.
Further, having excused juror 21 and the entire venire without objection, the court had opted to start jury selection all over with a new venire.
Under the circumstances, the court’s refusal to seat juror 21 was not arbitrary, fanciful, or unreasonable.
Thus, the court did not abuse its discretion in denying defendant’s motion to seat juror 21.
- Episode 189 – Foster v. Chatman, (May 2016) (Prosecution uses initials next to names to make it pretty clear that they struck black jurors because of their race )
- Episode 113 – People v. Williams, 2015 IL App (1st) 131103 (November) (Defense counsel’s unsubstantiated assertion was an insufficient basis for the trial judge to find that a prima facie Batson case had been established.)
- Episode 342 – People v. Austin, 2017 IL App (1st) 142737 (April) (Fact that multiple jurors of the same race have been stricken, without more, does not raise a prima facia case for a Batson violation.)
- Episode 255 – In re A.S., 2016 IL App (1st) 161259 (October) (A pattern of discrimination is not demonstrated anytime a party strikes more than one juror of any race.)
- Episode 174 – People v. Shaw, 2016 IL App (4th) 150444 (April) (Court accepted race neutral reasons for excluding minority jury members – they gave prosecutor some attitude.)