Tulsa Attorney BlogWhat is a Batson Challenge in Criminal Procedure?

A Batson Challenge Comes Up When the State Is Removing Somebody Based on Their Race

Video Transcribed: What is a Batson challenge? I’m Tulsa attorney James Wirth, and that’s the topic for today, Batson challenges. So what is that? Well, that is related to a criminal defense jury trial, and it’s during jury selection.

Generally speaking, there are challenges that the state and the defense attorney can make for cause and challenges that can be made that are not for causes or called peremptory challenges, and each side gets a specific number of those that they get to remove somebody from the jury without providing any specific reason.

Well, a Batson challenge comes up, generally speaking, when the state is removing somebody or appears to be removing somebody based on their race. Then the defense attorney, even though it is their peremptory challenge and they don’t have to show that it’s for cause, if it is on the basis of race, a challenge can be made by the defense attorney.

Batson v. Kentucky, and that’s a 1986 case, United States Supreme Court case 476 U.S. 79. And that is where the court held that it is a violation of the Constitution if the state is going to be removing people from the jury based on their race.

So when the defense attorney believes that that is what’s going on, the burden is initially on the defense attorney. And they have to show, one, that it’s a recognizable equal protection group.

Typically, when you see it in these cases and in the Batson case, it is based on Blacks on the jury being removed by the state. That’s the first step. And then it has to show that the circumstances of the particular case, based on the questions and answers, don’t show any other reasons for it and it creates an inference.

So the defense must establish initially an inference that’s on the basis of race. From that point, then the burden shifts to the state, and then they have to show their reason why the removal, and it has to be a race-neutral reason for removing that juror. So that is what a Batson challenge is.

It’s challenging the state using its peremptory challenge or peremptory removals of jurors to show that it was on the basis of race, that it is unconstitutional, and they shouldn’t be allowed to do that.

The court then rules on that to determine whether they can use their peremptory on that person for those reasons, or decides that they can’t and the person stays on and the state may get another pick to remove somebody from the jury.

So that’s what a Batson challenge is. If you’ve got questions about a jury trial procedure, you may want to talk to an attorney about that specifically. To get that scheduled, go online to makelaweasy.com.

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