ORDER DENYING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS; DENYING CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY
RONALD M. WHYTE, District Judge.
Petitioner, a state prisoner proceeding pro se, filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. On July 24, 2009, the court received petitioner's third amended petition. On March 30, 2012, the court denied in part the petition for writ of habeas corpus, and reserved ruling on the remaining claim - whether petitioner was denied equal protection under Batson v. Kentucky , 476 U.S. 79 (1986). The court ordered further briefing from the parties. Having received and considered respondent's supplemental answer, petitioner's supplemental traverse, and respondent's second supplemental answer, the court DENIES the petition.
A. Standard of Review
This court may entertain a petition for writ of habeas corpus "in behalf of a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a state court only on the ground that he is in custody in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States." 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a). Under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 ("AEDPA"), a district court may not grant a petition challenging a state conviction or sentence on the basis of a claim that was reviewed on the merits in state court unless the state court's adjudication of the claim "(1) resulted in a decision that was contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States; or (2) resulted in a decision that was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented in the state court proceeding." 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d). The first prong applies both to questions of law and to mixed questions of law and fact, Williams v. Taylor , 529 U.S. 362, 384-86 (2000), while the second prong applies to decisions based on factual determinations, Miller-El v. Cockrell , 537 U.S. 322, 340 (2003).
"Under the contrary to' clause, a federal habeas court may grant the writ if the state court arrives at a conclusion opposite to that reached by [the Supreme] Court on a question of law or if the state court decides a case differently than [the] Court has on a set of materially indistinguishable facts." Williams , 529 U.S. at 412-13. A state court decision is an "unreasonable application of" Supreme Court authority, falling under the second clause of § 2254(d)(1), if the state court correctly identifies the governing legal principle from the Supreme Court's decisions but "unreasonably applies that principle to the facts of the prisoner's case." Id. at 413. The federal court on habeas review may not issue the writ "simply because that court concludes in its independent judgment that the relevant state-court decision applied clearly established federal law erroneously or incorrectly." Id. at 411.
Under 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(2), a state court decision "based on a factual determination will not be overturned on factual grounds unless objectively unreasonable in light of the evidence presented in the state-court proceeding." Miller-El , 537 U.S. at 340.
In determining whether the state court's decision is contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established federal law, a federal court looks to the decision of the highest state court to address the merits of a petitioner's claim in a reasoned decision. LaJoie v. Thompson , 217 F.3d 663, 669 n. 7 (9th Cir. 2000). Here, that decision is the California Court of Appeal.
B. Petitioner's Claim
Petitioner claims that his right to equal protection was violated because the prosecutor used peremptory challenges to exclude African American jurors from the jury based solely on their race. After concluding that the trial court erred in finding no prima facie case of discrimination, this court ordered further briefing on whether the prosecutor's strikes were substantially motivated by discriminatory intent.
1. State court proceedings
At trial, the prosecutor made three peremptory challenges against three African Americans prospective jurors. After these challenges, petitioner made a Wheeler motion, People v. Wheeler , 22 Cal.3d 258 (1978), observing that three of the prosecution's eight peremptory challenges had been against African Americans. (Resp. Ex. 2, RT 167.) The prosecutor noted that two African Americans remained on the jury. (Resp. Ex. 2, RT 168.) Reserving the question of whether petitioner had made a prima facie case of discrimination, the trial court asked the prosecutor to state his reasons for excluding the three African American jurors.
Regarding the first, Cynthia Martin ("Ms. Martin"), the prosecutor stated that he never leaves postal workers such as Ms. Martin on juries because, from his experience, and the experience of other deputy district attorneys, "of all the career categories that are least sympathetic to law enforcement, least sympathetic to the prosecution, postal workers is [ sic ] No. 1." (Resp. Ex. 2, RT 170-71.) The prosecutor also commented that he factored into his decision that Ms. Martin's sister had been arrested for a drug offense, that she expressed feelings of being "gang-neutral, " and that she appeared to have better "body language" toward petitioner's counsel than toward him. (Resp. Ex. 2, RT 170-72.)
Regarding the third juror, Kevin Younger ("Mr. Younger"), the prosecutor stated that he was not able to establish any rapport with Mr. Younger. (Resp. Ex. 2, RT 175.) The prosecutor explained that Mr. Younger was friendly to him earlier in the day. (Id.) However, after the prosecutor exercised a peremptory strike against another juror in the afternoon, the prosecutor felt that Mr. Younger resented him for that strike. (Id. at 175-76.) In addition, the prosecutor indicated his concern that Mr. Younger worked for the Berkeley Unified School District, which was generally a very liberal area, and is "not ...