United States District Court, E.D. California
JAMES JOSHUA MAYFIELD, JAMES ALLISON MAYFIELD, JR. and TERRI MAYFIELD, Plaintiffs,
IVAN OROZCO, in his individual capacity, SHERIFF SCOTT JONES, in his individual and official capacity, JAMES LEWIS, in his individual and official capacity, RICK PATTISON, in his individual and official capacity, COUNTY OF SACRAMENTO, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA DAVIS HEALTH SYSTEM, DR. GREGORY SOKOLOV, in his individual capacity, DR. ROBERT HALES, in his individual capacity, and Does 1-5, Defendants.
ORDER GRANTING BATSON MOTION
A. MENDEZ, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
first day of trial in this action (May 1, 2017) Plaintiff
James Joshua Mayfield's counsel raised a Batson
motion during jury selection after Defense counsel exercised
peremptory challenges to strike prospective jurors #4 and
#6-the only two black jurors in the jury venire. Having heard
both parties' arguments and reviewed the record, the
Court grants Mayfield's motion.
claims apply in civil lawsuits. See also Edmonson v.
Leesville Concrete Co., Inc., 500 U.S. 614, 616,
617-619, 631 (1991). A Batson claim involves a
three-step, burden-shifting process. See McClain v.
Prunty, 217 F.3d 1209, 1219 (9th Cir. 2000). In this
case, Mayfield must make a prima facie case showing that
Defense counsel exercised race-based peremptory challenges.
See McClain, 217 F.3d at 1219. Then the burden
shifts to Defense counsel to offer race-neutral explanations
for excusing black jurors. Id. Finally, if the
parties satisfy the first two steps, the court must determine
whether Mayfield has carried his ultimate burden of proving
purposeful discrimination. Id.
parties meet the first two steps. Mayfield has made a prima
facie showing: His counsel argues that opposing counsel
excused the only two black jurors and that nothing
distinguished them from the other jurors as grounds for
excluding them besides their race. In response, Defense
counsel offered several race-neutral explanations. As to
prospective juror #4, Defense counsel contended that this
juror: (1) had a very good friend of his committed suicide
and (2) had a DUI. Defense counsel also noted that the Court
excluded prospective juror #8 who had a loved one that
committed suicide. As for prospective juror #6, Defense
counsel argued that he was (1) extremely young, (2) lacked
life experience, and (3) had scant education. At first
glance, these race-neutral explanations suffice. See Rice
v. Collins, 546 U.S. 333 (2006) (concluding it was not
unreasonable for trial court to accept prosecutor's
age-based explanation for excluding juror).
leads to Batson's final step. When evaluating
whether Mayfield has carried his burden to prove purposeful
discrimination, this Court must determine whether Defense
counsel's race-neutral explanations are credible. See
McClain at 1220. Discerning discriminatory intent turns
largely on this court's evaluation of Defense
counsel's credibility. See id. A court may infer
motive from “the totality of the relevant facts.”
Id. at 1220. Indeed, “[a] comparative analysis
of jurors struck and those remaining is a well-established
tool for exploring the possibility that facially race-neutral
reasons are a pretext for discrimination.” See
Id. at 1220-21.
considering the “totality of the relevant facts,
” comparatively analyzing “jurors struck [with]
those remaining” the Court finds that Defense
counsel's race-neutral explanations are pretextual.
First, Defense counsel used two of their five peremptory
challenges to strike the only black jurors in a case
involving a black plaintiff. Second, Defense counsel argued
that suicide is an extremely important issue, yet they did
not excuse prospective jurors #1, #7 and #14, non-black
jurors who also had close friends and relatives who committed
suicide. Third, Defense counsel's reference to this
Court's excluding prospective juror #8 as a reason for
also dismissing juror #4 is not persuasive. This Court
excluded prospective juror #8 because he admitted he could
not be impartial; juror #4 said he could. Fourth, Defense
counsel excused prospective juror #6, in part, because he did
not have much education. Prospective juror #6 has some
college education; non-black jurors #2 and #7 have only a
high school degree and non-black jurors #16 and #23 have only
an AA degree. Finally, while juror #6 appeared to be
relatively young as compared to most of the other prospective
jurors, Defense counsel did not request that the Court ask
any follow up questions during voir dire concerning his
actual age or other life experiences. Moreover, there does
not appear to be a significant age difference between juror
#6 and non-black juror #14.
in reviewing the totality of the circumstances surrounding
the exercise of peremptory challenges by Defense counsel in
this case, the Court finds that jurors #4 and #6 were
excluded because of the color of their skin rather than their
qualifications, or lack thereof, as a juror in this case.
discrimination in the qualification or selection of jurors
offends the dignity of persons and the integrity of the
Courts. To permit racial exclusion in this official forum
compounds the racial insult inherent in judging a citizen by
the color of his or her skin.” Edmonson, 500 U.S. at
628 (internal citation omitted).
Batson motion is granted. The Court dismisses the
eight jurors selected as the jury in this case and will start
jury selection again on Monday, May 8, 2017 at 9:00 a.m.
Counsel for all parties are required to appear tomorrow, May