State v. Jones

Decision Date06 April 1987
Docket NumberNo. 22751,22751
Citation293 S.C. 54,358 S.E.2d 701
CourtSouth Carolina Supreme Court
PartiesThe STATE, Respondent, v. Irving Daniel JONES, Appellant. . Heard

Asst Appellate Defender Daniel T. Stacey, of S.C. Office of Appellate Defense, Columbia, for appellant.

Atty. Gen. T. Travis Medlock, Asst. Attys. Gen. Harold M. Coombs, Jr., and William Edgar Salter, III, Columbia, and Sol. Joseph J. Watson, Greenville, for respondent.

HARWELL, Justice:

Appellant was convicted of possession of heroin with intent to distribute and sentenced to fifteen years in prison. He contends that he is entitled to a new trial under Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79, 106 S.Ct. 1712, 90 L.Ed.2d 69 (1986). We remand for further proceedings in the trial court on this issue.

Appellant is a member of the Black race. The solicitor used three of his peremptory challenges to strike potential black jurors. Appellant objected on constitutional grounds to the solicitor's use of peremptory challenges to exclude blacks from the jury.

In Batson, the United States Supreme Court ruled that a defendant in a state criminal trial may establish a prima facie case of racial discrimination.

To establish such a case, the defendant first must show that he is a member of a cognizable racial group, Castaneda v. Partida, supra [430 U.S. 482] at 494, 51 L Ed 2d 498, 97 S Ct 1272 [at 1280], and that the prosecutor has exercised peremptory challenges to remove from the venire members of the defendant's race. Second, the defendant is entitled to rely on the fact, as to which there can be no dispute, that peremptory challenges constitute a jury selection practice that permits "those to discriminate who are of a mind to discriminate." Avery v. Georgia, supra [345 U.S. 559] at 562, 97 L Ed 1244, 73 S Ct 891 [at 892]. Finally, the defendant must show that these facts and any other relevant circumstances raise an inference that the prosecutor used that practice to exclude the veniremen from the petit jury on account of their race. This combination of factors in the empanelling of the petit jury, as in the selection of the venire, raises the necessary inference of purposeful discrimination.

Batson, 476 U.S. at ----, 106 S.Ct. at 1723, 90 L.Ed.2d at 87-88. Once this prima facie showing is made, the burden shifts to the prosecution to present a neutral explanation for those juror challenges. In Griffith v. Kentucky, 479 U.S. ----, 107 S.Ct. 708, 93 L.Ed.2d 649 (1987), the Supreme Court held that Batson would apply retroactively to all cases pending on direct review. 1 We therefore consider the issue raised by appellant although his trial took place prior to the Supreme Court's pronouncement in Batson of this new rule for the conduct of criminal prosecutions.

In the present case, the trial judge neither held a Batson hearing nor made a finding as to whether a prima facie showing of purposeful discrimination had been established by the defendant. Further, based on the record before us, we can not determine as a matter of law that a prima facie case could not be established. The case, therefore, must be remanded.

Under Batson, state trial judges are given the discretion to determine whether the defendant has made out a prima facie case of purposeful discrimination. "We have confidence that trial judges, experienced in supervising voir dire, will be able to decide if the circumstances concerning the prosecutor's use of peremptory challenges creates a prima facie case of discrimination against black jurors." Batson, 476 U.S. at ----, 106 S.Ct. at 1723, 90 L.Ed.2d at 88. If the trial judge finds that a prima facie showing has not been made, the trial judge has no duty to hold a Batson hearing. See United States v. Dennis, 804 F.2d 1208 (11th Cir.1986), cert. denied, --- U.S. ----, 107 S.Ct. 1973, 95 L.Ed.2d 814 (U.S.1987).

Rather than deciding on a case by case basis whether the defendant is entitled to a hearing based upon a prima facie showing of purposeful discrimination under the vague guidelines set forth by the United States Supreme Court, the better course to follow would be to hold a Batson hearing on the defendant's request whenever the defendant is a member of a cognizable racial group and the prosecutor exercises peremptory challenges to remove members of defendant's race from the venire. This bright line test would ensure consistency by removing any doubt about when a Batson hearing should be conducted. Further, this procedure would ensure a complete record for appellate review.

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45 cases
  • State v. Rigual
    • United States
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    • May 8, 2001
    ...adopted the South Carolina rule that this court adopted in Holloway. See State v. Holloway, supra, 209 Conn. 646 n.4; State v. Jones, 293 S.C. 54, 58, 358 S.E.2d 701 (1987). Therefore, in light of Holloway, this case is not We conclude that in light of Powers, Holloway must now be construed......
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