206 F.3d 196 (2nd Cir. 2000), 99-2038, Jordan v Lefevre

Docket Nº:Docket No. 99-2038
Citation:206 F.3d 196
Party Name:FLANDERS JORDAN, Petitioner-Appellant, v. EUGENE S. LEFEVRE, Respondent-Appellee.
Case Date:March 20, 2000
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
 
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Page 196

206 F.3d 196 (2nd Cir. 2000)

FLANDERS JORDAN, Petitioner-Appellant,

v.

EUGENE S. LEFEVRE, Respondent-Appellee.

Docket No. 99-2038

United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit

March 20, 2000

Submitted: Nov. 9, 1999

Amended: May 8, 2000

Petitioner Flanders Jordan appeals from a judgment entered October 15, 1998 in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (Mukasey, J.) denying his petition for a writ of habeas corpus.

Reversed and remanded.

Page 197

Randall D. Unger, Kew Gardens, New York, filed a brief for Petitioner-Appellant.

Ilisa T. Fleischer, Assistant District Attorney, New York, New York (Robert M. Morgenthau, District Attorney, Donna Krone, Assistant District Attorney, New York County, New York, New York, of counsel), filed a brief for Respondent-Appellee.

Before: WINTER, Chief Judge, CARDAMONE, and STRAUB, Circuit Judges.

CARDAMONE, Circuit Judge:

Petitioner Flanders Jordan, a black defendant, appeals from a judgment entered October 15, 1998 in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (Mukasey, J.) that denied his petition for a writ of habeas corpus. Petitioner makes several claims on this appeal, but the principal one is that the prosecutor at his state court trial denied him the right to equal protection of the law through the use of peremptory challenges of potential black jurors under the teaching of Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79 (1986). Because peremptory challenges may allow "those to discriminate who are of a mind to discriminate," id. at 96, (quoting Avery v. Georgia, 345 U.S. 559, 562 (1953)), it is the duty of the trial court to inquire into the motivation for the peremptory

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challenge when a defendant makes a prima facie showing of racial discrimination in the prosecutor's pattern of peremptory strikes. A court insufficiently protects the defendant's equal protection rights when in its haste to speed along the proceedings it declares that a reason is "rational" without making the critical determination as to purposeful discrimination that Batson requires. Such is what happened in the present case.

Without the accused's critical right to an impartially selected jury of his peers, the guarantee of trial by jury has little meaning. We are cognizant that in jury selection it behooves the trial judge to make his rulings promptly and on the spot, so to speak. The judge may not however so restrict defense counsel's arguments that the accused suffers the loss of an impartial jury at trial. The accused should not lose such a fundamental right because a trial judge is impatient.

BACKGROUND

Petitioner and a co-defendant were accused of stabbing an acquaintance to death on a Manhattan subway train on November 19, 1989. Petitioner was charged with murder in the second degree and criminal possession of a weapon. He was convicted in 1991 after a jury trial in New York State Supreme Court, New York County, of manslaughter in the first degree (a lesser included offense) and sentenced to a prison term of 11 to 22 years. Petitioner took an unsuccessful direct appeal to the Appellate Division. People v. Jordan, 237 AD2d 141 (1st Dep't 1997). His application for leave to appeal to the New York Court of Appeals was denied. People v. Jordan, 89 NY2d 1095 (1997). Jordan thereafter sought a federal writ of habeas corpus, asserting constitutional defects under Batson as well as in several other aspects of his state trial.

Among those other claims, petitioner maintains that the arresting officer lacked probable cause to arrest him, that he was denied a fair trial because the trial judge improperly made comments during the voir dire regarding a defendant's right not to testify in his own behalf, and that the trial judge abused his discretion and coerced a verdict because he discharged one juror from jury service, but during the trial refused to discharge two others who said they had travel plans. The district court rejected these claims as procedurally barred because petitioner failed to raise them in his application for leave to appeal to the New York Court of Appeals.

I Petitioner's Other Claims

We discuss these other claims first, and then the Batson claim...

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