Race Neutral Peremptory Challenges

Joseph v. State, ___ So. 3d ___, 35 Fla. L. Weekly D1503 (Fla. 4th DCA 7/7/10)

The State peremptorily challenged an African American woman because she nodded her head and may have spoken to another African American woman prospective juror.  The defense conceded the race neutrality of these grounds but contended that they were not supported by the record.  The appellate court disagreed because the juror acknowledged on the record that she was nodding her head in response to the other prospective juror’s questions, and the trial court found that the challenged juror acknowledged that she may have spoken to another juror.  The ultimate jury consisted of five African Americans, five Caucasians, two Hispanics, and one Asian.  Based upon the diversity of the panel and the improper communication between the two prospective jurors, the appellate court concluded that the State’s challenge was sufficiently genuine.