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Washington State Supreme Court decision in State v. Saintcalle

Washington State Supreme Court decision in State v. Saintcalle

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Published by Levi Pulkkinen
Washington state Supreme Court's decision regarding peremptory challenges in jury selection
Washington state Supreme Court's decision regarding peremptory challenges in jury selection

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categoriesBusiness/Law
Published by: Levi Pulkkinen on Aug 01, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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08/02/2013

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Fl
LE
IN
CLERKS OFFICE
atJPm:ME
COURT,
STI\TE
OF
WliSHtNGTON
AUG
01
2013
UPREME COURT
OF
THE
STATE
OF
WASHINGTON
STATE OF
WASHINGTON,
))
Respondent,
)
No.
86257-5
)
V.
)
En
Bane
)
KIRK RICARDO SAINTCALLE,
)
AUG
01
2013
FiledPetitioner.
))
WIGGINS,
J.-This
appeal raises important questions about racediscrimination
in
our criminal justice system. Kirk Saintcalle, a black man,challenges his conviction for first felony degree murder because the State used aperemptory challenge
to
strike the only black venireperson
in
his jury pool.Saintcalle claims the peremptory strike was clearly racially motivated
in
violationof the equal protection guaranty enshrined
in
Batson
v.
Kentucky,
476
U.S.
79,
106
S.
Ct.
1712,
90
L.
Ed.
2d 69 (1986). We disagree.
Batson
requires a findingof purposeful discrimination, and the trial court's finding that there was
no
purposeful discrimination here
is
not clearly erroneous. Accordingly, we affirmSaintcalle's conviction.However, we also take this opportunity to examine whether our
Batson
procedures are robust enough to effectively combat race discrimination
in
theselection of juries. We conclude that they are not. Twenty-six years after
Batson,
1
 
No. 86257-5
a growing body of evidence shows that racial discrimination remains rampant
in
jury selection.
In
part, this
is
because
Batson
recognizes only "purposefuldiscrimination," whereas racism
is
often unintentional, institutional, orunconscious. We conclude that our
Batson
procedures must change and that wemust strengthen
Batson
to
recognize these more prevalent forms ofdiscrimination.But we will not create a new standard
in
this case because the issue hasnot been raised, briefed, or argued,
and
indeed, the parties are not seeking toadvance a new standard. Applying
Batson,
we affirm the Court of Appeals.FACTSKirk Saintcalle was convicted of one count of first degree felony murder andthree counts of second degree assault,
all
with firearm enhancements. Saintcallewas accused of entering
an
apartment
in
the city of Auburn with two companions,holding three people at gunpoint,
and
shooting and killing Anthony Johnson.Saintcalle was sentenced to 579 months
in
prison.During jury selection at Saintcalle's trial, the prosecution used a peremptorychallenge to strike the only black juror
in
the venire, juror
34,
Anna Tolson. Thischallenge came after the prosecution questioned juror
34
extensively during voir
dire-far
more extensively than any other juror. Indeed, most of the prosecution'sinteractions with jurors were quite brief, usually consisting of only a few shortquestions, but not the interaction with juror
34.
The State began questioning juror
34
after another juror made a comment about race:
2
 
No. 86257-5
[JUROR 72]: I feel there are some areas of unfairness
in
oursystem. I
am
aware, for example, that a jury of their peers [sic], yet
as
you
look around this panel, all of the faces are white.[JUROR
34]:
No,
not quite.(Laughter.)[PROSECUTOR]: You know what, you kind of bring a veryimportant topic
to
light. If you were seated here
in
this chair
and you
looked out at this panel, would
you
have any concern about whether ornot people are going to
be
able
to
relate to
you
or listen to you or feelfor you? Juror
number-What
is
your number? Juror number
34,
I
am
going to ask you a little bit about your background. You work at theYMCA?[JUROR 34]: I work
in
a middle school.[PROSECUTOR]: So tell
me
how that works. So you are acounselor?[JUROR 34]: Yes.[PROSECUTOR]: Which means you see a whole lot.[JUROR 34]: Yes.[PROSECUTOR]: And where do you work? What school do youwork in?[JUROR 34]: Do I really need
to
say that?[PROSECUTOR]: How about you just tell me the city.
Is
it
an
inner city school?[JUROR 34]: Yes.[PROSECUTOR]: You see a whole lot?[JUROR 34]: Yes.[PROSECUTOR]: I am interested to hear from
you-1
mean,
do
you have impressions about the criminal justice system?[JUROR 34]: Yes.[PROSECUTOR]: You are not going to hurt
my
feelings if youtalk about them a little
bit.
What are your thoughts?
3

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