Batson v. Kentucky

476 U.S. 79 Supreme Court 1986
Theguarantee of equal protectionismeaninglessinourcriminal justice system.The realityisourjustice systemhas survivedonpurposeful discrimination and theconvictionofblack defendants
BackNext
Share

At the trial of James Kirkland Batson for burglary and receipt of stolen goods, the prosecutor used peremptory challenges to remove all four black jurors from the jury pool. The jury convicted Batson on both counts.

Batson challenged the removal of these jurors as violating his Sixth Amendment right to an impartial jury and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

The Court ruled that purposeful racial discrimination during the process of voir dire violates a defendant's right to equal protection because it denies them the protection that a trial by jury is intended to secure.

Racially motivated peremptory challenges remain an issue for jury selection. For example, Timothy Foster was sentenced to death in 1987. On appeal to the Supreme Court in 2016, the Court ruled 7-1 that the “prosecutors were motivated in substantial part by race” when using their peremptory challenges to remove two Black jurors, and overturned Foster’s death sentence. The case is currently before the Georgia Supreme Court as the State continues to pursue the death penalty.

Back to top