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What is a Batson Challenge?

If you are ever made to face criminal charges in Cranford, your fate may depend largely on the opinions of the jurors who hear your case. The hope is that those selected to a jury constitute an apt representation if your local community. To accomplish this, both your defense attorney and the attorney prosecuting your case are allowed a certain number of peremptory challenges that can be used to exclude people from the jury pool. Typically, attorneys will look to exclude potential jurors whose opinions seem to conflict with the aims of their case (with prosecutor's being to convict you and your defense attorney's being to cast doubt on the potential of your guilt). Yet what if it is discovered that jurors are being excluded for other reasons? 

The Sixth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States guarantees that you be tried in front of a jury that represents a cross-section of your community. This means that prosecutors should not exclude jurors from hearing your case if it is believed that their potential connections to you (whatever they may be) might make them sympathetic to your plight. Therefore, federal allows for a Batson Challenge if you believe the prosecutor in your case has done this. 

The Batson Challenge (so named because of a U.S. Supreme Court case involving a claimant with this very name) prohibits attorneys from excluding potential jurors based on any of the following factors: 

  • Race
  • Ethnicity
  • Sex

If you are making a Batson Challenge, the burden of proof falls to you to show that the prosecution's exclusion of jurors in your case has based on these three traits. If the court agrees with your assertion, the result may be having a mistrial declared or an earlier conviction thrown out. 

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What is a Batson Challenge? | The Law Offices of Anthony N. Palumbo