June 12, 2019
from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia
(CF1-5953-15), (Hon. José M. López, Trial
Pavlovic, Public Defender Service, with whom Samia Fam and
Jaclyn Frankfurt, Public Defender Service, were on the brief,
Smith, Assistant United States Attorney, with whom Jessie K.
Liu, United States Attorney, and Elizabeth Trosman and
Michelle Jackson, Assistant United States Attorneys, were on
the brief, for appellee.
Beckwith and McLeese, Associate Judges, and Nebeker, Senior
jury selection at appellant Mark Beasleys criminal trial,
the government used eight of its ten peremptory strikes
against black jurors. Mr. Beasley appeals his subsequent
convictions, arguing that the trial court erred in
determining that he failed to make out a prima facie case of
discriminatory intent based on the governments use of
peremptory strikes. See Batson v. Kentucky,
476 U.S. 79, 106 S.Ct. 1712, 90 L.Ed.2d 69 (1986). We agree
and therefore reverse Mr. Beasleys convictions.
Beasley was charged with murder, assault, and gun-related
offenses stemming from an incident outside a nightclub. At
the start of trial, the court indicated that it would be
using the "Arizona method" for picking jurors,
meaning that, rather than implementing peremptory challenges
round by round, each side would list all ten of its
peremptory challenges at once and then exchange lists. After
the court reviewed each list, the parties would repeat the
process for the four alternate seats.
questioning lasted three days and resulted in a venire of
forty-eight qualified potential jurors. Sixteen of those
potential jurors, or 33% of the venire, were black. When the
parties began exercising peremptory challenges, the
government used eight of its ten challenges to strike black
jurors and used another challenge to strike a Latino
juror. After reviewing the strike sheets,
defense counsel raised a challenge pursuant to Batson v.
Kentucky, 476 U.S. at 89, 106 S.Ct. 1712, in which the
U.S. Supreme Court decided that in a criminal case, the use
of a peremptory challenge to strike a prospective juror
solely on the basis of race violated the Equal Protection
Clause of the U.S. Constitution. The court completed the
process for the alternate jurors and then turned to Mr.
Beasleys Batson challenge.
Beasley argued that the government used nine of its
peremptory strikes "for people of suspect
classifications, eight African American and one Latino."
He asserted that "[e]ight African Americans based on my
calculations is roughly 50 percent of the African Americans
who are in the entire venire" and "100 percent of
the Latinos." In response, the prosecutor acknowledged
having struck eight black jurors, summarized the racial
breakdown of Mr. Beasleys own peremptory
strikes, and noted that the defense struck two
of the same black jurors: "So if you take away the very
two that they struck, we struck ... six black people, three
white people, and one Latino individual." Defense
counsel reiterated that the ...