Castellanos v. Small

Petitioner was convicted in California state court of murder and related offenses. Petitioner appealed, arguing that the district court erred in denying his Batson motion because the prosecution engaged in purposeful discrimination when it exercised four peremptory strikes against Hispanic venirepersons. The California Court of Appeal affirmed the convictions. Thereafter, Petitioner applied for habeas relief. The district court denied the application, determining that the prosecutor’s use of peremptory challenges did not violate Petitioner’s federal constitutional right under the Fourteenth Amendment pursuant to Batson v. Kentucky. The Ninth Circuit reversed and remanded with instructions to grant the application, holding (1) under the totality of the circumstances, the prosecutor’s factually-erroneous reason for striking Venireperson 4968 was pretextual; and (2) the state court’s finding to the contrary amounted to an “unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented.” View "Castellanos v. Small" on Justia Law