Purkett v. Elem, 514 U.S. 765, 13 (1995) (per curiam)

Page:   Index   Previous  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  Next

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

Stevens, J., dissenting

procedure is contemplated, however, I think even this Court would acknowledge that some implausible, fantastic, and silly explanations could be found to be pretextual without any further evidence. Indeed, in Hernandez the Court explained that a trial judge could find pretext based on nothing more than a consistent policy of excluding all Spanish-speaking jurors if that characteristic was entirely unrelated to the case to be tried. 500 U. S., at 371-372 (plurality opinion of Kennedy, J.). Parallel reasoning would justify a finding of pretext based on a policy of excusing jurors with beards if beards have nothing to do with the pending case.

In some cases, conceivably the length and unkempt character of a juror's hair and goatee type beard might give rise to a concern that he is a nonconformist who might not be a good juror. In this case, however, the prosecutor did not identify any such concern. He merely said he did not " 'like the way [the juror] looked,' " that the facial hair " 'look[ed] suspicious.' " Ante, at 766. I think this explanation may well be pretextual as a matter of law; it has nothing to do with the case at hand, and it is just as evasive as "I had a hunch." Unless a reviewing court may evaluate such explanations when a trial judge fails to find that a prima facie case has been established, appellate or collateral review of Batson claims will amount to nothing more than the meaningless charade that the Missouri Supreme Court correctly understood Batson to disfavor. Antwine, 743 S. W. 2d, at 65.

In my opinion, preoccupation with the niceties of a three-step analysis should not foreclose meaningful judicial review of prosecutorial explanations that are entirely unrelated to the case to be tried. I would adhere to the Batson rule that such an explanation does not satisfy step two. Alternatively, I would hold that, in the absence of an explicit trial court finding on the issue, a reviewing court may hold that such an explanation is pretextual as a matter of law. The Court's unnecessary tolerance of silly, fantastic, and implausible explanations, together with its assumption that there is


Page:   Index   Previous  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  Next

Last modified: October 4, 2007