No person shall be excluded from jury service on account of sex, race, color, religion, or national origin.
History Note. - The provisions of this section are similar to those of the second sentence of Art. I, § 19, Const. 1868, as amended in 1946.
Legal Periodicals. - For article, "Race-Based Peremptories No Longer Permitted in Civil Trials: Jackson v. Housing Authority of High Point," see 67 N.C.L. Rev. 1262 (1989).
For article, "Thirty Years of Disappointment: North Carolina's Remarkable Appellate Batson Record," see 94 N.C.L. Rev. 1957 (2016).
I. In General.
II. Grand Juries.
I. IN GENERAL.
Intent of Section. - This section is intended to protect the integrity of the judicial system, not just the reliability of the conviction obtained in a particular case. State v. Cofield, 320 N.C. 297, 357 S.E.2d 622 (1987).
This section does more than protect individuals from unequal treatment; the people of this State have declared in this provision that they will not tolerate the corruption of their juries by racism, sexism, and similar forms of irrational prejudice. State v. Cofield, 320 N.C. 297, 357 S.E.2d 622 (1987).
The right to trial by jury carries with it the right to be tried before a body selected in such a manner that competing and divergent interests and perspectives in the community are reflected rather than reproduced absolutely. State v. Bowman, 349 N.C. 459, 509 S.E.2d 428 (1998), cert. denied, 527 U.S. 1040, 119 S. Ct. 2403, 144 L. Ed. 2d 802 (1999).
Statistics of Underrepresentation. - Statistics concerning one jury pool, standing alone, are insufficient to show that underrepresentation of the defendant's race is due to systematic exclusion of the group in the jury selection process. State v. Bowman, 349 N.C. 459, 509 S.E.2d 428 (1998), cert. denied, 527 U.S. 1040, 119 S. Ct. 2403, 144 L. Ed. 2d 802 (1999).
A jury venire of only 8.3% African-Americans, where the census for the county revealed that African-Americans comprised 16.15% of the county's population, did not encroach on the defendant's constitutional right to be tried by a jury of his or her peers, where he did not allege systematic exclusion, only that the court should have taken affirmative steps to ensure that the jury venire called for his trial was racially proportionate; a 7.85% difference, standing alone, did not render the jury venire constitutionally infirm. State v. Blakeney, 352 N.C. 287, 531 S.E.2d 799 (2000), cert. denied, 531 U.S. 1117, 121 S. Ct. 868, 148 L. Ed. 2d 780 (2001).
Prima Facie Showing of Intentional Discrimination. - As with race-based "Batson" claims, a party alleging gender discrimination must make a prima facie showing of intentional discrimination before the party exercising the preemptory challenge of a juror is required to explain the basis for the strike. State v. Gaines, 345 N.C. 647, 483 S.E.2d 396 (1997), cert. denied, 522 U.S. 900, 118 S. Ct. 248, 139 L. Ed. 2d 177 (1997).
Case was remanded for a Batson hearing after the trial court erred by concluding that the defendant failed to present a prima facie showing during voir dire to challenge the prosecutor's peremptory strikes of prospective minority jurors, as a numerical analysis of the prosecutor's peremptory strikes, while not conclusive of the issue, called into question the prosecutor's conduct. State v. Barden, 356 N.C. 316, 572 S.E.2d 108 (2002).
To make out a prima facie case of discrimination. a defendant need only show that the relevant circumstances raise an inference that the prosecutor used peremptory challenges to remove potential jurors solely because of their race. State v. Quick, 341 N.C. 141, 462 S.E.2d 186 (1995).
The trial court properly denied defendant's Batson challenge based on defendant's failure to make a prima facie showing of racial discrimination; a prima facie case was not made out simply because the juror struck by the peremptory challenge and the defendant were both African-Americans. State v. Lawrence, 352 N.C. 1, 530 S.E.2d 807 (2000).
Prima Facie Showing Moot. - Trial court erred in finding that defendant failed to make out a prima facie showing of discrimination, as the trial court heard the State's reasons for striking the jurors prior to making a ruling on defendant's Batson objection, which made the issue of whether he made a prima facie showing moot; the court then had to consider whether the State met its burden of providing a race-neutral explanation for its peremptory challenges. State v. James, 230 N.C. App. 346, 750 S.E.2d 851 (2013).
Showing of Disproportionate Racial Representation. - To establish a prima facie case of disproportionate representation of a defendant's race in a jury venire, a defendant must show: (1) that the group alleged to be excluded is a "distinctive" group in the community; (2) that the group representation in venires from which juries are selected is not fair and reasonable in relation to the number of such persons in the community; and (3) that this under representation is due to systematic exclusion of the group in the jury-selection process. State v. Bowman, 349 N.C. 459, 509 S.E.2d 428 (1998), cert. denied, 527 U.S. 1040, 119 S. Ct. 2403, 144 L. Ed. 2d 802 (1999).
Peremptory Challenge Test Based on Race Same as Federal Test. - The test to determine whether peremptory challenges were exercised in a racially discriminatory manner is the same under the North Carolina Constitution as it is under the United States Constitution. State v. Floyd, 343 N.C. 101, 468 S.E.2d 46 (1996), cert. denied, 519 U.S. 896, 117 S. Ct. 241, 136 L. Ed. 2d 170 (1996).
Racial Neutrality of Peremptory Strike. - Whether an explanation for a peremptory strike of a prospective juror being challenged as racially discriminatory is indeed neutral depends on whether, accepting the proffered reason as true, the challenge constitutes purposeful discrimination as a matter of law. State v. White, 131 N.C. App. 734, 509 S.E.2d 462 (1998).
Peremptory Challenges Based on Race Proscribed. - This section proscribes peremptory challenges to jurors in civil cases as well as criminal cases on the basis of race. Jackson v. Housing Auth., 321 N.C. 584, 364 S.E.2d 416 (1988).
The State's explanation for using a peremptory strike, in response to a challenge that it was racially motivated, must be clear, reasonably specific, and related to the particular case to be tried, although it need not rise to the level justifying exercise of a challenge for cause. State v. White, 131 N.C. App. 734, 509 S.E.2d 462 (1998).
Applied in State v. Wiggins, 334 N.C. 18, 431 S.E.2d 755 (1993).
Cited in State v. Miller, 339 N.C. 663, 455 S.E.2d 137, rehearing denied, 340 N.C. 118, 458 S.E.2d 183 (1995); State v. Crandell, 322 N.C. 487, 369 S.E.2d 579 (1988); State v. Agudelo, 89 N.C. App. 640, 366 S.E.2d 921 (1988); State v. Payne, 327 N.C. 194, 394 S.E.2d 158 (1990); State v. Smith, 328 N.C. 99, 400 S.E.2d 712 (1991); State v. Glenn, 333 N.C. 296, 425 S.E.2d 688 (1993); In re Browning, 124 N.C. App. 190, 476 S.E.2d 465 (1996); State v. Robinson, 346 N.C. 586, 488 S.E.2d 174 (1997), cert. denied, - N.C. - , 502 S.E.2d 611 (1998); State v. Cummings, 346 N.C. 291, 488 S.E.2d 550 (1997), cert. denied, 522 U.S. 1092, 118 S. Ct. 886, 139 L. Ed. 2d 873 (1998); State v. Caporasso, 128 N.C. App. 236, 495 S.E.2d 157 (1998), appeal dismissed, 347 N.C. 674, 500 S.E.2d 91 (1998); State v. White, 349 N.C. 535, 508 S.E.2d 253 (1998), cert. denied, 527 U.S. 1026, 119 S. Ct. 2376, 144 L. Ed. 2d 779 (1999); State v. Bonnett, 348 N.C. 417, 502 S.E.2d 563 (1998), cert. denied, 525 U.S. 1124, 119 S. Ct. 909, 142 L. Ed. 2d 907 (1999); State v. King, 353 N.C. 457, 546 S.E.2d 575 (2001), cert. denied, 534 U.S. 1147, 122 S. Ct. 1107, 151 L. Ed. 2d 1002 (2002); State v. Rouse, 198 N.C. App. 378, 679 S.E.2d 520 (2009).
II. GRAND JURIES.
The spirit of this section requires that all grand jurors be considered for appointment as grand jury foreman. State v. Cofield, 324 N.C. 452, 379 S.E.2d 834 (1989).
Selection of Grand Jury Foreman Must Meet Racially Neutral Standard. - A method of selecting a grand jury foreman that meets the racially neutral standard must ensure that all grand jurors are considered by the presiding judge for his selection and that his selection be made on a racially neutral basis. State v. Cofield, 324 N.C. 452, 379 S.E.2d 834 (1989), holding, however, that this holding applies only to the case at hand and cases in which the indicting grand jury's foreman is selected after the certification date of the opinion of the case at hand.
Racial discrimination in the selection of a grand jury foreman from a panel of grand jurors selected in a nondiscriminatory manner violates this section and N.C. Const., Art. I, § 19. State v. Cofield, 320 N.C. 297, 357 S.E.2d 622 (1987).
A black defendant may make out a prima facie case of racial discrimination in the grand jury foreman's selection by showing either (1) that the selection procedure itself was not racially neutral, or (2) that for a substantial period in the past, relatively few blacks have served in the position of foreman even though a substantial number have been selected to serve as members of grand juries. The State may rebut such a prima facie case on remand by offering evidence that the process used in selecting the grand jury foreman was in fact racially neutral. State v. Cofield, 320 N.C. 297, 357 S.E.2d 622 (1987).
To Establish Prima Facie Case of Racial Discrimination in Selection of Grand Jury Foreman. - A black defendant may make out a prima facie case of racial discrimination in the grand jury foreman's selection by showing either (1) that the selection procedure itself was not racially neutral, or (2) that for a substantial period in the past, relatively few blacks have served in the position of foreman even though a substantial number have been selected to serve as members of grand juries. The State may rebut such a prima facie case on remand by offering evidence that the process used in selecting the grand jury foreman was in fact racially neutral. State v. Cofield, 320 N.C. 297, 357 S.E.2d 622 (1987).
Evidence to Show Pretextual Nature of Prosecutor's Explanation. - In North Carolina in a claim of racially discriminatory use of peremptory challenges, the defendant may put on additional evidence before the trial court's final ruling to prove that the prosecutor's explanations are pretextual. State v. Williams, 339 N.C. 1, 452 S.E.2d 245 (1994), cert. denied, 516 U.S. 833, 116 S. Ct. 109, 133 L. Ed. 2d 61 (1995), overruled in part, State v. Warren, 347 N.C. 309, 492 S.E.2d 609 (1997).
Disparate Treatment of Prospective Jurors Not Dispositive. - Although the prosecutor claimed to have struck one of the black jurors because of her family's involvement with crime, another because of inconsistent statements and a third because of the juror's views on the death penalty, but, according to defendant, the prosecutor passed two white jurors with criminal backgrounds, one white juror who made inconsistent statements and another who expressed reservations about imposing the death penalty, disparate treatment of prospective jurors was not necessarily dispositive on the issue of discriminatory intent. State v. Williams, 339 N.C. 1, 452 S.E.2d 245 (1994), cert. denied, 516 U.S. 833, 116 S. Ct. 109, 133 L. Ed. 2d 61 (1995), overruled in part, State v. Warren, 347 N.C. 309, 492 S.E.2d 609 (1997).
An excusal, under G.S. § 9-3, based on a juror's inability to understand the English language, is not a violation of the provision of Article 1, § 26 of the North Carolina Constitution that none shall be excluded from jury service on account of national origin. State v. Smith, 352 N.C. 531, 532 S.E.2d 773 (2000), cert. denied, 532 U.S. 949, 121 S. Ct. 1419, 149 L. Ed. 2d 360 (2001).
Excuse Based on Age. - Statutory scheme allowing trial judge to exercise his discretion to excuse jurors over the age of 65 has a rational basis and is not constitutionally infirm. State v. Rogers, 355 N.C. 420, 562 S.E.2d 859 (2002).
Circumstances Collectively Showed Discrimination. - After a black woman was seated for examination during voir dire, the prosecutor asked the clerk if there was a white male out there; the prosecutor briefly questioned the woman and then peremptorily challenged her; the woman was excused and a white man was called for examination and later became the jury foreperson. Standing alone, the prosecutor's peremptory challenge of the black woman would not amount to a prima facie showing of purposeful discrimination. The prosecutor's question of the clerk prior to his examination of the black woman, however, is a relevant circumstance which, when combined with the prosecutor's subsequent peremptory challenge of the black woman, raises an inference of purposeful discrimination on the prosecutor's part thereby establishing a prima facie showing. State v. Hall, 104 N.C. App. 375, 410 S.E.2d 76 (1991).
Race Neutral Reasons for Striking African-American Jurors. - State's reasons for using six of its peremptory strikes on African-American jurors, including unresponsiveness, deceit, failure to make eye contact, alleged acquaintance with defendant's former girlfriend, an extensive history of purchasing pawn tickets, and prior employment at the convenience store where the incident occurred, were race-neutral. State v. Pender, 218 N.C. App. 233, 720 S.E.2d 836 (2012).
Prosecutor's Impression that Juror Out of Touch with Reality. - A peremptory strike of a prospective juror was without racially discriminatory intent where the prosecutor stated that it was based on the prospective juror's limited education, his limited ability to read and write, his failure to answer all questions on the juror questionnaire, his statement that he had never considered his views on the death penalty until that day, and the prosecutor's impression that the juror may be "out of touch with reality." State v. Hardy, 353 N.C. 122, 540 S.E.2d 334 (2000), cert. denied, 534 U.S. 840, 122 S. Ct. 96, 151 L. Ed. 2d 56 (2001).
Race or Religion of Defendant Different from Excluded Juror. - Discrimination in selecting juries so strongly taints the judicial system that any proceeding in which it appears is fatally flawed; for this reason, the fact that the defendant's race or religion differs from the excluded person's is irrelevant. State v. Eason, 336 N.C. 730, 445 S.E.2d 917 (1994), cert. denied, 513 U.S. 1096, 115 S. Ct. 764, 130 L. Ed. 2d 661 (1995).
Challenge Not Pretextual. - Defendant's proffered reasons for challenging a black juror were not pretextual where the juror had been convicted on six occasions of issuing worthless checks and was not forthright about her convictions upon questioning. State v. Peterson, 344 N.C. 172, 472 S.E.2d 730 (1996).
Peremptory Challenge by Defendant In Criminal Trial. - Trial court did not commit clear error in sustaining the State of North Carolina's objection to defendant's peremptory challenges during jury selection, when the State alleged purposeful discrimination on the basis of gender and race. The court considered defendant and the murder victims being black, the credibility of defense counsel, the context of the peremptory strike by defendant against a white prospective juror, and defendant's pretrial motion to prevent the State from exercising peremptory strikes against prospective black jurors. State v. Hurd, - N.C. App. - , 784 S.E.2d 528 (2016), cert. denied, 792 S.E.2d 521, 2016 N.C. LEXIS 748 (2016).
Peremptory Challenges Upheld. - In a capital case, peremptory challenges to 5 of 6 potential black jurors were upheld where the State met its burden of coming forward with neutral, nonracial explanations for each peremptory challenge. State v. Robinson, 330 N.C. 1, 409 S.E.2d 288 (1991).
No purposeful racial discrimination occurred in the peremptory challenges of black jurors where trial court's ruling was supported by the trial court's findings of fact, which were supported by the record. State v. Thomas, 329 N.C. 423, 407 S.E.2d 141 (1991), cert. denied, 522 U.S. 824, 118 S. Ct. 84, 139 L. Ed. 2d 41 (1997).
The State did not discriminate on the basis of race in exercising its peremptory challenges against two jurors, where the State provided race-neutral reasons for the peremptory challenges of both jurors, namely that one was young, within the age range of defendants, and had a sister who was also within the age range of defendants, and that the other had been convicted of driving while impaired and had a father with a prior conviction for robbery for which he had served six years, and where, in selecting the 12 jurors and four alternates, the State exercised 27 peremptory challenges, only four of which were against African-Americans. This ratio represented a percentage of African-Americans equivalent to the percentage of African-Americans in the jury pool. Moreover, during jury selection, the State made no comments which would support an inference of discrimination. State v. Golphin, 352 N.C. 364, 533 S.E.2d 168 (2000), cert. denied, 532 U.S. 931, 121 S. Ct. 1379, 1380, 149 L. Ed. 2d 305 (2001).
Murder defendant failed to show that jurors were improperly excluded on the basis of race, given one juror's opposition to the death penalty, another juror's potential sympathy for defendant, and a third juror's employment counseling inmates. State v. Fair, 354 N.C. 131, 552 S.E.2d 568 (2001).
Defendant's Batson challenge to the jury, under principles of racial discrimination, gender discrimination, and racial-gender discrimination combined, were carefully evaluated under the various prongs of Batson and found not to have violated U.S. Const., Amend. VI and N.C. Const., Art. I, § 26, where the trial court found that defendant established a prima facie case that the peremptory challenges were exercised on the basis of race, but thereafter, the prosecutor's reasons were found to be racially neutral; the court found no purposeful discrimination in the challenges made by the prosecutor, and challenges to the other forms of discriminatory challenge lacked merit because there was insufficient proof that a cognizable group had been singled out for exclusion. State v. Wiggins, 159 N.C. App. 252, 584 S.E.2d 303 (2003), cert. denied, 541 U.S. 910, 124 S. Ct. 1617, 158 L. Ed. 2d 256 (2004).
State's preemptory challenges, which did not violate Batson because they were race-neutral, were based on potential juror's (1) strong and absolute opposition to death penalty, (2) concern for undue sympathy for the defendant, (3) pregnancy making it difficult to take a life when carrying a life, (4) prison ministry dealing with violent criminals to reform them, (5) rheumatoid arthritis, (6) nervousness about thought of having to impose death penalty, and (7) being homemaker with child with special needs and her sympathies. State v. Bell, 359 N.C. 1, 603 S.E.2d 93 (2004).
Trial court did nor err in denying defendant's Batson challenge to the State's exercising of a peremptory challenge to remove a prospective African-American juror because the State's race neutral explanations for using a peremptory challenge to remove a prospective African-American juror - that her responses on death penalty were weak, that she admitted she might develop sympathy toward defendant, and that she made a misrepresentation on her questionnaire - complied with Batson. State v. Alvarez, 168 N.C. App. 487, 608 S.E.2d 371 (2005).
Defendant failed to make a prima facie showing of racial discrimination with regard to the State's preemptory challenge of a prospective juror which was granted in defendant's trial for first-degree murder and the trial court, therefore, did not err in overruling defendant's Batson objection because, despite the juror being the first African American to have been challenged, other factors supported the trial court's ruling such as the fact that the victim and the State's three critical witnesses were all African American. Therefore, the case was not particularly susceptible to racial discrimination and the State neither made any racially motivated statements nor asked any racially motivated questions of the prospective juror. State v. Augustine, 359 N.C. 709, 616 S.E.2d 515 (2005).
State's peremptory challenges to three African-American prospective jurors did not establish a pattern of discrimination in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution and N.C. Const., Art. I, § 26, when viewed in conjunction with other relevant facts. When defendant made his Batson objection, the State had accepted two out of five, or forty percent, of eligible African-American jurors; and the State's statements and questions during voir dire appeared evenhanded and not racially motivated. State v. Taylor, 362 N.C. 514, 669 S.E.2d 239 (2008), cert. denied, - U.S. - , 130 S. Ct. 129, 175 L. Ed. 2d 84 (2009).
In an appeal as of right with regard to the imposition of a sentence of death against a defendant following a jury trial, which resulted in his conviction for the first-degree murder of a police officer while in the performance of his duties, the defendant's claim of gender bias in the State's peremptory challenge of a prospective juror was not an exceptional circumstance calling for invocation since the defendant had not objected to any of the State's peremptory challenges on the ground of discrimination against women. State v. Maness, 363 N.C. 261, 677 S.E.2d 796 (June 18, 2009).
In an action in which defendant appealed his conviction for First-degree murder and his death sentence, the State did not improperly use peremptory challenges to strike prospective African-American jurors on the basis of race where: (1) the numbers did not suggest a systematic effort on the part of the State to prevent African-Americans from serving as jurors; and (2) the State's proffered race-neutral reasons were not pretextual. State v. Waring, 364 N.C. 443, 701 S.E.2d 615 (2010).
Findings did not indicate that the State acted with racial purpose, and the trial court's ultimate decision to dismiss defendant's Batson objection was upheld. State v. James, 230 N.C. App. 346, 750 S.E.2d 851 (2013).
Trial court did not err in denying defendant's Batson challenge, as when questioned about his thoughts concerning the death penalty, a black juror stated he would not agree with the death penalty under any circumstances, elaborating he was a pastor and agreeing with the death penalty would make him a hypocrite, and that he might hypothetically agree to the death penalty if a defendant chopped someone into pieces and burned them. State v. McQueen, - N.C. App. - , 790 S.E.2d 897 (2016).
Peremptory strike against a second black juror after he minimized his criminal history, avoided questions regarding his family member's criminal charges, had spoken with a witness on multiple occasions and had a great-niece who worked for the witness did not violate Batson State v. McQueen, - N.C. App. - , 790 S.E.2d 897 (2016).
Peremptory strike against a black female did not violate Batson based on her thought about the death penalty, failure to disclose past criminal charges, her reservations about whether law enforcement treated her brother fairly, and her lack of eye contact when asked whether her brother's prosecution would affect her ability to be fair and impartial to both sides of the case. State v. McQueen, - N.C. App. - , 790 S.E.2d 897 (2016).
The defendant did not make a prima facie showing of racially motivated peremptory challenges where the State accepted seven of the 17 black veniremen tendered and the majority of the jury which tried the defendant was black. State v. Allen, 323 N.C. 208, 372 S.E.2d 855 (1988), sentence vacated and remanded for further consideration at, 494 U.S. 1021, 110 S. Ct. 1463, 108 L. Ed. 2d 601 (1990), in light of, 281 U.S. 700, 50 S. Ct. 353, 74 L. Ed. 1126 (1930).
Defendant, found guilty of murder and robbery, failed to establish a prima facie case of racial discrimination in the State's use of its peremptory challenges, where the State's questions during voir dire focused on the prospective juror's feelings about capital punishment and the age of the juror, or his or her children, as compared with defendant's age; the venire persons were brought into the courtroom individually, so neither defendant nor the State knew how many black citizens were present in the venire or whether a black citizen would be examined next; and three of the first four jurors seated were black, as were both defendant and the victim, thus diminishing the likelihood that racial issues were inextricably bound up with the conduct of the trial. State v. Davis, 325 N.C. 607, 386 S.E.2d 418 (1989), cert. denied, 496 U.S. 905, 110 S. Ct. 2587, 110 L. Ed. 2d 268 (1990).
Defendant failed to establish a prima facie case of purposeful discrimination in selection of the jury where the jury consisted of ten white jurors and two black jurors, the only peremptory challenge exercised by the prosecutor excused a black man from the jury, but the prosecutor also accepted the two women who were the other black members of the jury venire, he accepted one at the same time he challenged the black male juror, indicating that he was not attempting to strike all blacks, and he did not move to strike any jurors for cause, thus, accepting 66% of the black potential jurors. State v. Ross, 338 N.C. 280, 449 S.E.2d 556 (1994).
The prosecutor's peremptory excusal of two of four black jurors in a case involving sexual offenses against a white woman by a black man was not sufficient, standing alone, to establish a prima facie case of racial discrimination and require the prosecutor to come forward with race-neutral explanations. State v. Quick, 341 N.C. 141, 462 S.E.2d 186 (1995).
The prosecutor gave race neutral reasons for his peremptory strikes of black jurors in a capital murder case, where one was excused for his criminal record, body language, and lack of candor, and another because she was confused, she did not think that wife-beating was a serious crime, and she had a relative in jail. State v. White, 131 N.C. App. 734, 509 S.E.2d 462 (1998).
Even though the prosecutor's reasons for peremptory strikes of two black females were suspect, in that he initially identified them as two "black" females, the defense failed to object, and the stated reasons that the prospects were health care providers and close to defendant's age were adequate to support the strikes. State v. White, 131 N.C. App. 734, 509 S.E.2d 462 (1998).
Defendant failed to establish a prima facie case that the State exercised its peremptory challenges in a racially discriminatory manner during the jury selection process where the victims were black, the State's key witnesses were black, the prosecutor made no racially motivated remarks, and the jury was composed of four black males, one black female, three white males, and four white females, with one black male and one black female as alternates. State v. Smith, 351 N.C. 251, 524 S.E.2d 28 (2000), cert. denied, 531 U.S. 862, 121 S. Ct. 151, 148 L. Ed. 2d 100 (2000).
Defendants did not meet their burden of showing purposeful discrimination in the selection of jurors, due to the racially diverse composition of the jury and the trial court's finding that the prosecution's explanations for striking of prospective jurors because of conduct were not pretextual. State v. Tirado, 358 N.C. 551, 599 S.E.2d 515 (2004), cert. denied, 544 U.S. 909, 125 S. Ct. 1600, 161 L. Ed. 2d 285 (2005).
Under U.S. Const., Amend. XIV, as well as N.C. Const., Art. I, § 26, the State used a peremptory challenge to excuse an African-American prospective juror, however, the State offered race neutral reasons for the excusal, even though other potential jurors may have given similar answers, that she (1) was against killing whether it was legal or illegally and that her opposition was based on religious, moral, and philosophical beliefs she had held since childhood, and (2) had a brother who had previously been convicted of armed robbery; the trial judge was in the best position to resolve this issue, having heard and seen the responses of the prospective juror, including her facial expressions, tone of voice, reactions, and other nuances that were not subject to translation when the appeals court reviewed the cold record on appeal. State v. McClain, 169 N.C. App. 657, 610 S.E.2d 783 (2005).
Findings as to race neutrality and purposeful discrimination were supported by the record and the trial court properly overruled defendants' objections to the excusal of six prospective jurors. State v. Gaines, 345 N.C. 647, 483 S.E.2d 396 (1997), cert. denied, 522 U.S. 900, 118 S. Ct. 248, 139 L. Ed. 2d 177 (1997).
Findings Adhered to Requirements of Inquiry. - Trial court's findings adhered to the requirements of a Batson inquiry, as the trial court made specific findings as to race, the prevalence of minority jurors being dismissed, and the State's reasoning for its use of peremptory challenges, plus defendant's chance to rebut was also considered. State v. James, 230 N.C. App. 346, 750 S.E.2d 851 (2013).
Trial court applied the correct criteria when it approved a jury panel of eight black jurors and four white jurors with three alternates selected, one of whom was black and two of whom were white, and heard arguments regarding the prosecutor's reverse-Batson challenge and defendant's Batson challenge. State v. Braxton, 352 N.C. 158, 531 S.E.2d 428 (2000), cert. denied, 531 U.S. 1130, 121 S. Ct. 890, 148 L. Ed. 2d 797 (2001).
Trial court did not err in failing to conduct a Batson hearing under N.C. Const., Art. I, § 26, even though the State's acceptance rate was 25 percent for African-American prospective jurors (PJs) and 80 percent for white PJs, where: (1) defendant and the victims were African-American; (2) the State questioned the PJs in the same manner; (3) there were no racially motivated comments made or questions asked during jury selection; and (4) the responses of the PJs provided reasonable justification for exclusion. State v. Mills, 225 N.C. App. 773, 741 S.E.2d 427 (2013).
Opposition to Capital Punishment on Religious Grounds. - Where the record established beyond a doubt that juror was excused, not because of his choice of religion, but because of his inability to follow the law regarding his duties as a juror, the fact that the prospective juror's religion provided the basis for his views in opposition to the death penalty did not alter the propriety of excluding him for cause. State v. Davis, 325 N.C. 607, 386 S.E.2d 418 (1989); 496 U.S. 905, 110 S. Ct. 2587, 110 L. Ed. 2d 268 (1990); State v. Warren, 348 N.C. 80, 499 S.E.2d 431 (1998).
Where potential juror, who was a Jehovah's Witness, was stricken because of reservation about the death penalty and another prospective juror stated that he had no reservations which might impair his serving on the jury, and he was chosen to sit, there was sufficient support for the conclusion that potential juror removed from the jury because of her reservations about the death penalty, not because of her religious affiliation. State v. Eason, 336 N.C. 730, 445 S.E.2d 917 (1994), cert. denied, 513 U.S. 1096, 115 S. Ct. 764, 130 L. Ed. 2d 661 (1995).
Violation of Defendant's Rights Was Not Shown. - Where, although the State did not outline a profile or criteria for selecting jurors, it was obvious from the record that it would strike jurors who had connections to the defendants or to a principal State's witness or whom it believed would be prejudicial against the State, the record did not reflect that the assistant district attorney made any comments indicating a purpose to discriminate, and there was no transcript of the jury's voir dire and there was incomplete information on the racial composition of the jury venire and the jury, the defendants did not show that the trial judge violated defendant's rights under either the federal or State constitutions by overruling their objections to the State's use of peremptory challenges. State v. Cannon, 92 N.C. App. 246, 374 S.E.2d 604 (1988), rev'd on other grounds, 326 N.C. 37, 387 S.E.2d 450 (1989).
Defendant was not denied a fair trial where the percentage of African-American jurors in the jury pool at his trial was 8.67 percent and the percentage of African-American jurors in the county was 20.8 percent; defendant presented no evidence showing that the alleged deficiency of African-Americans on the jury was because of the systematic exclusion of this group in the jury-selection process, and the prosecutor provided race neutral explanations for the peremptory challenges of two prospective African-American jurors. Allen v. Lee, 319 F.3d 645 (2003), vacated on other grounds, 2003 U.S. App. LEXIS 5760, on rehearing, en banc, 366 F.3d 319, 2004 U.S. App. LEXIS 8349 (4th Cir. N.C. 2004).
Appellate Review of Findings as to Intentional Racial Discrimination. - An appellate court will uphold the trial court's findings regarding intentional racial discrimination in jury selection unless the reviewing court is left with the definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been committed, based on the entire evidence. State v. White, 131 N.C. App. 734, 509 S.E.2d 462 (1998).
Adequacy of Record - Defendant's Batson challenge, which alleged discrimination in the exercise of peremptory challenges in violation of N.C. Const., Art. I, § 26, was denied, because the record did not reconstruct jury selection in sufficient detail to enable the appellate court to conduct appellate review of the trial court's determination that defendant failed to make a prima facie showing of race and gender discrimination in the prosecutor's exercise of peremptory challenges. State v. Shelman, 159 N.C. App. 300, 584 S.E.2d 88, cert. denied sub nom. State v. Shelman, 357 N.C. 581, 589 S.E.2d 363 (2003).