Florida Court Discusses Preemptory Strikes of Jurors in Criminal Matters

In criminal cases, whether a defendant is found guilty typically hinges on the jury’s perception of them and the facts presented at trial. Thus, it is critical that the jury is comprised of impartial people who represent the defendant’s peers. If the prosecution uses a preemptory strike against a juror for impermissible reasons, therefore, it may violate the defendant’s constitutional rights. Recently, a Florida court discussed preemptory strikes of jurors in criminal matters in a case in which the defendant was convicted of murder and other crimes. If you are accused of murder or another violent offense, it is critical that you engage the services of a Tampa criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible.

Factual and Procedural Background of the Case

It is reported that the defendant and accomplices robbed a pawn shop and then fled from the police. The defendant ultimately entered the victim’s home and then drove the victim’s car through the garage door. The police arrested the defendant and then found the two victims murdered within the home.

The defendant was charged with multiple offenses, including two counts of first-degree murder. During the selection of jurors, the state used one of its preemptory strikes to remove a juror who, like the defendant, was black. The defendant’s attorney stated that the state’s reason for striking the juror was not sufficiently race-neutral. The defendant was convicted as charged. He then appealed.

Preemptory Strikes of Jurors in Criminal Matters

On appeal, the defendant raised several arguments, including the assertion that the prosecution was impermissibly motivated by race when it struck the juror. First, the court noted that the defendant’s argument that the state’s reasons for preemptively striking the juror were pretextual was not properly preserved for appeal.

In other words, while the defendant’s attorney objected at trial that the state’s alleged reasons for striking the juror were not sufficiently race-neutral, the objection did not place the court on notice of the argument he ultimately advanced on appeal, which is that the state’s proffered reasons were pretextual. Further, the court found that the state’s reason for striking the juror, namely that she stated she was not God when asked about the death penalty, was, in fact, sufficiently race-neutral.

The court rejected the defendant’s second argument, which was that there was insufficient evidence to support the defendant’s guilty verdict of attempted first-degree murder with a vehicle as well. Finally, the court found that the defendant’s remaining arguments lacked merit. Thus, it affirmed his convictions.

Confer with an Assertive Tampa Criminal Defense Attorney

Theft crimes are zealously prosecuted in Florida, and people found guilty of theft offenses often face lengthy sentences. If you are charged with identity theft or any other theft offense, it is wise to confer with an attorney as soon as possible. The assertive Tampa lawyers of Hanlon Law are well versed in what it takes to obtain successful results in criminal matters, and if you hire us, we will work tirelessly on your behalf. You can reach Hanlon Law via the form online or at 813-228-7095 to set up a meeting.