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Race and Jury Selection

Defendant Woodson is an African-American male accused of murdering a white female in an apartment burglary. During the jury selection process, Prosecutor Forbes exercises only two peremptory challenges, excusing from service the only two African-Americans in the jury. An all-white jury is eventually empanelled, and Defendant Woodson is convicted of first-degree murder, with life imprisonment imposed as punishment.

After the jury verdict is announced, Prosecutor Forbes is questioned by the local media concerning his exercise of the peremptory challenges. Prosecutor Forbes explains that race was not a factor in his decision, but that the two potential jurors were excused "because they have facial hair, and as a matter of practice, I do not want individuals with facial hair serving on my jury." Further, Prosecutor Forbes states "I categorically deny that race played any factor whatsoever in the jury selection process."

On appeal, should the appellate court:

1) deem Prosecutor Forbes' actions reversible error, and remand the case to the trial court level to be retried;

2) vacate (nullify) the jury verdict, and dismiss the charges against Defendant Woodson; or

3) allow the conviction to stand?

Should prosecutors be allowed to consider race as a factor in the jury selection process? Gender? Age?

Solution Preview

On appeal, the appellate court should deem prosecutor Forbe's actions as a reversible error, and remand the case to the trial court level to be retried, due to the fact that prosecutor Forbe's decision to dismiss to potential jurors, due to the fact that they ...