Garcia v. State, 94-1028

Decision Date24 May 1995
Docket NumberNo. 94-1028,94-1028
Citation655 So.2d 194
Parties20 Fla. L. Weekly D1258 Hector Rafael GARCIA, Appellant, v. The STATE of Florida, Appellee.
CourtFlorida District Court of Appeals

Bennett H. Brummer, Public Defender, and Mark King Leban, Sp. Asst. Public Defender, for appellant.

Robert A. Butterworth, Atty. Gen., and Charles M. Fahlbusch, Asst. Atty. Gen., for appellee.



Hector Rafael Garcia appeals from a judgment of conviction for trafficking, and conspiracy to traffic in cocaine. For the following reasons, we reverse and remand for a new trial.

In an undercover police operation, defendant was alleged to have been the supplier of four kilograms of cocaine. The drug transaction occurred in a home where small children lived. During voir dire, the defense sought to exercise a peremptory challenge against juror Mary Paz. The State raised a Neil challenge to the strike. After noting that Ms. Paz was Hispanic, the trial court asked defense counsel to provide a race-neutral reason for the strike. The defense proffered that Ms. Paz worked for the school system, was the mother of small children, and was thus not likely to be able to render a fair verdict for the defendant. The trial court found these reasons pretextual and ordered Ms. Paz seated as a juror. She became the foreperson of the jury.

The trial court committed reversible error when it refused to allow the defense to strike juror Paz, as "there is no reason in common sense, legal intuition or the record to overcome 'the presumption that peremptories will be exercised in a nondiscriminatory manner,' or to justify a finding of 'discriminatory intent.' " Betancourt v. State, 650 So.2d 1021, 1023 (Fla. 3d DCA 1995) (citations omitted). In this case, as in Betancourt, defendant was Hispanic; the challenged juror was Hispanic; and there was no basis whatsoever in the record "for even implying a racial reason" for the strike. Id. Accordingly, we reverse the conviction, and remand for a new trial.

We must also reach the evidentiary issues raised on appeal, as these matters are likely to recur when defendant is tried again. Over the defendant's objection, the trial court allowed the State to introduce an empty holster 1 recovered from the defendant's car, and $880.00 in cash that defendant was carrying when he was arrested at the scene of the crime. The trial court abused its discretion in admitting the holster and the cash, as neither was relevant to any portion of the case. See Sosa v. State, 639 So.2d 173, 174 (Fla. 3d DCA 1994) (ammunition found in defendant's vehicle erroneously admitted where "[n]o weapon was found, no ballistics tests performed, and no link whatsoever established between these rounds and the case at bar."); Huhn v. State, 511 So.2d 583 (Fla. 4th DCA 1987) (weapon not connected to crimes with which defendant charged was not admissible); Lowder v. State, 589 So.2d 933, 936 (Fla. 3d DCA 1992) (inference of criminal activity does not arise from possession of relatively small amount of cash).


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6 cases
  • Pride v. State, 94-1969
    • United States
    • Florida District Court of Appeals
    • 13 Diciembre 1995
    ...658 So.2d 992 (Fla.1995); Betancourt v. State, 650 So.2d 1021 (Fla. 3d DCA), rev. denied, 659 So.2d 272 (Fla.1995); see Garcia v. State, 655 So.2d 194 (Fla. 3d DCA 1995); Barquin v. State, 654 So.2d 1069 (Fla. 3d DCA This record indicates the trial court did not conduct a traditional Neil i......
  • Cruz v. State, 94-1029
    • United States
    • Florida District Court of Appeals
    • 20 Septiembre 1995
    ...v. State, 618 So.2d 174 (Fla.1993). We acknowledge the opinions of Barquin v. State, 654 So.2d 1069 (Fla. 3d DCA 1995), Garcia v. State, 655 So.2d 194 (Fla. 3d DCA 1995), and Portu v. State, 651 So.2d 791 (Fla. 3d DCA 1995), but find them factually distinguishable from the case at hand and ......
  • Smith v. State
    • United States
    • Florida District Court of Appeals
    • 15 Noviembre 1995
    ...intent. See Betancourt v. State, 650 So.2d 1021, 1023 (Fla. 3d DCA), review denied, 659 So.2d 272 (Fla.1995); accord Garcia v. State, 655 So.2d 194, 195 (Fla. 3d DCA), review denied, 662 So.2d 343 We pause at this juncture to acknowledge the trial court's well-founded observation in the rec......
  • Brunson v. State Of Fla.
    • United States
    • Florida District Court of Appeals
    • 31 Marzo 2010 prove the charge of trafficking. Appellant cites both Loivder v. State, 589 So.2d 933 (Fla. 3d DCA 1991), and Garcia v. State, 655 So.2d 194 (Fla. 3d DCA 1995), for the proposition that the underlying evidence is inadmissible, yet neither of those cases mandates reversal here. In Loivder......
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