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Judges reverse convictions due to Batson challenge error

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A Marion County trial court erred when it overruled a man’s Batson challenge contesting the state’s use of a peremptory challenge to strike an African-American juror, the Indiana Court of Appeals held Wednesday. The appeals court overturned Tyrece Robertson’s convictions and ordered a new trial.

Robertson was charged with Class D felony attempted residential entry and Class B misdemeanor criminal mischief after allegedly trying to break into an apartment. During jury selection at his trial, the state used peremptory strikes to remove several potential jurors from the venier, including juror Lisenbee, who is African-American. Robertson raised a Batson challenge, which was overruled. Robertson was found guilty as charged.

“Both parties acknowledge that, in this case, neither Robertson nor the State had an opportunity to conduct voir dire of the other African-American member of the venire. Because the trial court did not move to the second step in the Batson analysis — requiring the State to present a facially race-neutral reason for using a peremptory strike — the court did not conclude that Robertson had established a prima facie case of discrimination,” Judge L. Mark Bailey wrote in Tyrece Robertson v. State of Indiana, 49A05-1310-CR-487. “Yet, as Robertson points out, the only African-American juror that was subject to voir dire — Venireperson Lisenbee — was stricken from the jury. Thus, for all intents and purposes, the State used its peremptory challenges to strike the only African-American member of the venire.”

As such, Robertson’s rights under the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution were violated, the judges ruled, so he should be retried.

 

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  1. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  2. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

  3. I will agree with that as soon as law schools stop lying to prospective students about salaries and employment opportunities in the legal profession. There is no defense to the fraudulent numbers first year salaries they post to mislead people into going to law school.

  4. The sad thing is that no fish were thrown overboard The "greenhorn" who had never fished before those 5 days was interrogated for over 4 hours by 5 officers until his statement was illicited, "I don't want to go to prison....." The truth is that these fish were measured frozen off shore and thawed on shore. The FWC (state) officer did not know fish shrink, so the only reason that these fish could be bigger was a swap. There is no difference between a 19 1/2 fish or 19 3/4 fish, short fish is short fish, the ticket was written. In addition the FWC officer testified at trial, he does not measure fish in accordance with federal law. There was a document prepared by the FWC expert that said yes, fish shrink and if these had been measured correctly they averaged over 20 inches (offshore frozen). This was a smoke and mirror prosecution.

  5. I love this, Dave! Many congrats to you! We've come a long way from studying for the bar together! :)

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