Respondent was convicted of second-degree robbery in a Missouri court. During jury selection, he objected to the prosecutor's use of peremptory challenges to strike two black men from the jury panel, an objection arguably based on Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U. S. 79 (1986). The prosecutor explained his strikes:
"I struck [juror] number twenty-two because of his long hair. He had long curly hair. He had the longest hair of anybody on the panel by far. He appeared to me to not be a good juror for that fact, the fact that he had long hair hanging down shoulder length, curly, unkempt hair. Also, he had a mustache and a goatee type beard. And juror number twenty-four also has a mustache and goatee type beard. Those are the only two people on the jury . . . with the facial hair . . . . And I don't like the way they looked, with the way the hair is cut, both of them. And the mustaches and the beards look suspicious to me." App. to Pet. for Cert. A-41.
The prosecutor further explained that he feared that juror number 24, who had had a sawed-off shotgun pointed at him during a supermarket robbery, would believe that "to have a robbery you have to have a gun, and there is no gun in this case." Ibid.
The state trial court, without explanation, overruled respondent's objection and empaneled the jury. On direct appeal, respondent renewed his Batson claim. The Missouri Court of Appeals affirmed, finding that the "state's explanation constituted a legitimate 'hunch' " and that "[t]he circumstances fail[ed] to raise the necessary inference of racial discrimination." State v. Elem, 747 S. W. 2d 772, 775 (Mo. App. 1988).
Respondent then filed a petition for habeas corpus under 28 U. S. C. § 2254, asserting this and other claims. Adopting the Magistrate Judge's report and recommendation, the Dis-Page: Index Previous 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 Next
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