Purkett v. Elem, 514 U.S. 765, 7 (1995) (per curiam)

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Cite as: 514 U. S. 765 (1995)

Stevens, J., dissenting

Today the Court holds that it did not mean what it said in Batson. Moreover, the Court resolves a novel procedural question without even recognizing its importance to the unusual facts of this case.


In the Missouri trial court, the judge rejected the defendant's Batson objection to the prosecutor's peremptory challenges of two jurors, juror number 22 and juror number 24, on the ground that the defendant had not made out a prima facie case of discrimination. Accordingly, because the defendant had failed at the first step of the Batson inquiry, the judge saw no need even to confirm the defendant's assertion that jurors 22 and 24 were black; 3 nor did the judge require the prosecutor to explain his challenges. The prosecutor nevertheless did volunteer an explanation,4 but the judge evaluated neither its credibility nor its sufficiency.

(1935)]. The prosecutor therefore must articulate a neutral explanation related to the particular case to be tried. The trial court then will have the duty to determine if the defendant has established purposeful discrimination." Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U. S., at 97-98 (footnotes omitted).

3 The following exchange took place between the defense attorney and the trial judge:

"MR. GOULET: Mr. Larner stated that the reason he struck was because of facial hair and long hair as prejudicial. Number twenty-four, Mr. William Hunt, was a victim in a robbery and he stated that he could give a fair and impartial hearing. To make this a proper record if the Court would like to call up these two individuals to ask them if they are black or will the Court take judicial notice that they are black individuals?

"THE COURT: I am not going to do that, no, sir." App. to Pet. for Cert. A-42.

4 The prosecutor stated: "I struck 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 a goatee type beard. Those are the only two people on the jury, numbers twenty-two and twenty-four with facial hair of any


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