Mayfield v. Orozco, et al.

Filing 381

ORDER signed by District Judge John A. Mendez on 5/2/2017 GRANTING Plaintiff's Batson Motion. The court DISMISSES the eight jurors selected as the jury in this case and will start jury selection again on 5/8/2017 at 9:00am. Counsel for all parties are REQUIRED to appear tomorrow, 5/3/2017 at 9:15am. No witnesses will be required to be present tomorrow. (cc Jury Clerk Sacramento) (Donati, J)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 10 11 12 JAMES JOSHUA MAYFIELD, JAMES ALLISON MAYFIELD, JR. and TERRI MAYFIELD, 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 Plaintiffs, v. IVAN OROZCO, in his individual capacity, SHERIFF SCOTT JONES, in his individual and official capacity, JAMES LEWIS, in his individual and official capacity, RICK PATTISON, in his individual and official capacity, COUNTY OF SACRAMENTO, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA DAVIS HEALTH SYSTEM, DR. GREGORY SOKOLOV, in his individual capacity, DR. ROBERT HALES, in his individual capacity, and Does 1-5, 22 Defendants. ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) Case No. 2:13-cv-02499 JAM-AC ORDER GRANTING BATSON MOTION 23 24 On the first day of trial in this action (May 1, 2017) 25 Plaintiff James Joshua Mayfield’s counsel raised a Batson motion 26 during jury selection after Defense counsel exercised peremptory 27 challenges to strike prospective jurors #4 and #6—the only two 28 black jurors in the jury venire. Having heard both parties’ 1 1 arguments and reviewed the record, the Court grants Mayfield’s 2 motion. 3 Batson claims apply in civil lawsuits. See also Edmonson v. 4 Leesville Concrete Co., Inc., 500 U.S. 614, 616, 617-619, 631 5 (1991). 6 process. 7 2000). 8 that Defense counsel exercised race-based peremptory challenges. 9 See McClain, 217 F.3d at 1219. A Batson claim involves a three-step, burden-shifting See McClain v. Prunty, 217 F.3d 1209, 1219 (9th Cir. In this case, Mayfield must make a prima facie case showing Then the burden shifts to Defense 10 counsel to offer race-neutral explanations for excusing black 11 jurors. 12 the court must determine whether Mayfield has carried his ultimate 13 burden of proving purposeful discrimination. 14 Id. Finally, if the parties satisfy the first two steps, The parties meet the first two steps. Id. Mayfield has made a 15 prima facie showing: His counsel argues that opposing counsel 16 excused the only two black jurors and that nothing distinguished 17 them from the other jurors as grounds for excluding them besides 18 their race. 19 neutral explanations. 20 contended that this juror: (1) had a very good friend of his 21 committed suicide and (2) had a DUI. 22 that the Court excluded prospective juror #8 who had a loved one 23 that committed suicide. 24 counsel argued that he was (1) extremely young, (2) lacked life 25 experience, and (3) had scant education. 26 race-neutral explanations suffice. 27 333 (2006) (concluding it was not unreasonable for trial court to 28 accept prosecutor’s age-based explanation for excluding juror). In response, Defense counsel offered several raceAs to prospective juror #4, Defense counsel Defense counsel also noted As for prospective juror #6, Defense 2 At first glance, these See Rice v. Collins, 546 U.S. 1 That leads to Batson’s final step. When evaluating whether 2 Mayfield has carried his burden to prove purposeful discrimination, 3 this Court must determine whether Defense counsel’s race-neutral 4 explanations are credible. 5 discriminatory intent turns largely on this court’s evaluation of 6 Defense counsel’s credibility. 7 from “the totality of the relevant facts.” 8 “[a] comparative analysis of jurors struck and those remaining is a 9 well-established tool for exploring the possibility that facially See McClain at 1220. See id. Discerning A court may infer motive Id. at 1220. 10 race-neutral reasons are a pretext for discrimination.” 11 Indeed, 1220-21. 12 See id. at After considering the “totality of the relevant facts,” 13 comparatively analyzing “jurors struck [with] those remaining” the 14 Court finds that Defense counsel’s race-neutral explanations are 15 pretextual. 16 peremptory challenges to strike the only black jurors in a case 17 involving a black plaintiff. 18 suicide is an extremely important issue, yet they did not excuse 19 prospective jurors #1, #7 and #14, non-black jurors who also had 20 close friends and relatives who committed suicide. 21 counsel’s reference to this Court’s excluding prospective juror #8 22 as a reason for also dismissing juror #4 is not persuasive. 23 Court excluded prospective juror #8 because he admitted he could 24 not be impartial; juror #4 said he could. 25 excused prospective juror #6, in part, because he did not have much 26 education. 27 black jurors #2 and #7 have only a high school degree and non-black 28 jurors #16 and #23 have only an AA degree. First, Defense counsel used two of their five Second, Defense counsel argued that Third, Defense This Fourth, Defense counsel Prospective juror #6 has some college education; non- 3 Finally, while juror #6 1 appeared to be relatively young as compared to most of the other 2 prospective jurors, Defense counsel did not request that the Court 3 ask any follow up questions during voir dire concerning his actual 4 age or other life experiences. 5 be a significant age difference between juror #6 and non-black 6 juror #14. 7 Moreover, there does not appear to Thus, in reviewing the totality of the circumstances 8 surrounding the exercise of peremptory challenges by Defense 9 counsel in this case, the Court finds that jurors #4 and #6 were 10 excluded because of the color of their skin rather than their 11 qualifications, or lack thereof, as a juror in this case. 12 “[R]acial discrimination in the qualification or selection of 13 jurors offends the dignity of persons and the integrity of the 14 Courts. 15 compounds the racial insult inherent in judging a citizen by the 16 color of his or her skin.” 17 citation omitted). 18 To permit racial exclusion in this official forum Edmonson, 500 U.S. at 628 (internal Plaintiff’s Batson motion is granted. The Court dismisses the 19 eight jurors selected as the jury in this case and will start jury 20 selection again on Monday, May 8, 2017 at 9:00 a.m. 21 all parties are required to appear tomorrow, May 3, 2017 at 9:15 22 a.m. 23 24 Counsel for No witnesses will be required to be present tomorrow. IT IS SO ORDERED. DATED: May 2, 2017. 25 26 27 28 4

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