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Monday, June 20, 2005

Miller-El vindicates Batson challenge

In Miller-El v. Dretke, No. 03-9659 (June 13, 2005), the Supreme Court held that a Texas inmate was entitled to prevail on a Batson claim, and therefore was entitled to habeas relief.
The prosecutors used peremptory strikes to exclude 91% of the eligible black venire panelists. The Court found the reasons proffered by the prosecution for striking the black venire members to be "unlikely" and "pretextual." The evidence supported a conclusion that race was a significant factor in determining who was struck and who was not.
Moreover, the prosecution’s practice of "shufflng the cards" did not have racially neutral reasons. Instead, Texas was trying to avoid black jurors.
The Court rejected the Fifth Circuit’s contrary conclusion, finding that it "blinked reality."