Essay Sample on Batson v. Kentucky

Published: 2023-05-22
Essay Sample on Batson v. Kentucky
Type of paper:  Case study
Categories:  Discrimination Criminal law Court system Judicial system
Pages: 7
Wordcount: 1849 words
16 min read

Batson v. Kentucky is one of the most controversial cases in the United States that was presided over in the supreme court (Marder,2016). The case involved James Kirkland Batson, an African American man and a petitioner during the case and Kentucky, state court. The petitioner was accused of stolen goods and burglary. The main concern in the cases that went controversial was the use of peremptory challenges. The application of this constitutional element to dismiss jurors is questionable, and the judges did not state valid reasons for doing so. As a result, the case gave rise to what people called Baston challenge, referring to an objection to the use of peremptory challenges in courts because of the standard that was established in the course of this case (Marder,2016). This article, therefore, analyses the case Batson v. Kentucky, form different perspectives and states the main issues and elements of a case that was utilized during the trial.

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1. Facts of The Case

Boston was in a trial in the court of Kentucky State; he was convicted with receipt of stolen items and second-degree burglary. In the process of jury selection. In the trial, the prosecutor utilized the voir dire phase to dismiss some of the jurors (Price, 2016). Usually, at this phase, jurors are inspected by the prosecution, the defence, and the court to determine their sustainability, willingness and competence to deliberate, hear, or decide a case bought before them to render judgment. The dismissal of the jurors gave the defuse and projection a small number of peremptory challenges.

In this case, Joe Gutmann, the prosecutor peremptorily challenged only the six and the four African Americans while the jury consisted of only white persons on the venire. Boston was then convicted in both charges that he was facing the court. The defense, in response, moved to dismiss the jury.

The main is in the case to determine whether the projector's actions of using peremptory challenges to dismiss potential jurors serving in the jury based on colour violates constitutional law- the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment (Price, 2016).

2. Forensic Psychology Issues Presented in The Case

Did the use of peremptory challenges by the prosecutor to dismiss the four Black Americans from the jury violate the law?

Yes, the prosecutor vacillated the petitioner's Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments rights because the prosecutor did so without stating the route cause. By doing so, the prosecutor devastated the role of the court and undermined the competence of a trail. The prosecutor did it based on racial discrimination, which is unconstitutional and unethical.

Does the petitioner have a right to a petit jury consisting of persons from his race?

No, a petitioner has no right to tried with a jury consisting of persons of his race. Still, the law forbids the prosecutor to dismiss members of the jury without adequate reasons or based on racial considerations.

3. Literature Review

Various research studies have been conducted to determine the effective use of peremptory challenges in court. The case presents one of the scenarios where the projector misuses the privilege to preside over the case based on race. Ion the other different scholars have different opinions and understandings of how it should be used and how a particular usage fits into a certain context.

According to Flanagan, 2015, the selection of jurors in court greatly affects the composition, competence, and quality of the jury. He affirms that the main aim of conducting this event is to remove biased or incompetent jurors. A portioner, in any case, has a right to a fair trial conducted by an impartial jury; this is one of the requirements by the US jurisdiction system. The author identifies this as one of the rights that the Constitution provides in the Sixth Amendment. The article explores other research literature to justify different contexts at which peremptory challenges can be applicable. Most of these studies affirm that juries play an important role in presiding over the case; the selection of jurors should not be biased or based on ethnic groups. The article presents a model of selecting juries t determined the conditions of selecting juries. the author concludes that a peremptory challenge in most cases may fail if an unreasonable selection is allowed.

Morrison, DeVaul-Fetters & Gawronski,2016 identifies the importance of fairly selecting jurors; they affirm that defendants should be treated as innocent, not unless they are proven quilt. The quality justification for this assumption has been a problem for cases that involves racial considerations. They affirm that racial biases in the selection of the jury negatively influence the decisions that the jury makes. The study uses simulated voir dire to analyze the impacts of jury selections from different perspectives to justify the impacts. Their opinions on the issues of jury selection are that there is no close relationship between the levels of jury explicit and peremptory challenge when it comes t the role of the jury to make a decision involving a racially-based case. However, they agree that racial minorities face a lot of challenges when it comes to the courtroom of jury trials.

Based on the evidence from North Carolina, Flanagan, 2018, utilizes data from felony jury court sessions to determine how race, juries, and gender may influence the quality of conviction. The authors say that a selection of the jury that consists of more blacks is likely to rule in favour of all respondents, especially of those from their race. The authors make credible conclusions about the selection pf jury and the entire criminal justice system. Discrimination against jurors who are potentially competent at handling a case is unconstitutional and unethical. he suggests that state prosecutors have a primary role to play to ensure that they are free from discrimination. They conclude that discrimination of members of the jury can only happen when a peremptory challenge is removed; however, it would affect the ability for both sides to undertake a fair trial.

4. Court Decision


Justice Powell concluded that selecting jurors based on racial considerations was unethical and did not only deprived the accused of his rights to a fair trial, but it undermined the function of the court and public confidence about the law.

The court found that the prosecutor violated the law by dismissing the jurors; this conclusion relied mostly on the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments in the constitution, Swain v. Alabama (1965), and the standards set in Strauder v. West Virginia (1880) (Price, 2016).

5. Rule of Law

The actions of the prosecutor violated the Constitution because he failed to provide a neutral cause of dismissing the four African Americans from the jury.

In this case, the legal idea is that, despite the provision of a peremptory challenge to balance the members of the jury, it is lawful to consider whether the defendant's right to Equal Protection is violated or not (Marder,2016). Therefore, the use of the peremptory challenge should consider the defendant's rights.

The principles of Equal Protection are applied to determine if the process of jury selection involves discrimination or not. The use of peremptory challenge by the State to dismiss individual jurors from the jury is also governed by these principles even though the prosecutor is entitled to carry out dismissal.

A defendant also has a right to launch a prima facie case as a result of discrimination presented by the prosecutor following misuse of a peremptory challenge to select jurors. However, the defendant must clearly show evidence to support the claim, this includes

The prosecutor has exercised a peremptory challenge to remove jurors of his or her race

He or she is a member of the race in question

6. Reasoning

The court held that since the petitioner had not been permitted to have either a partial or complete jury consisting of persons form his race, the prosecutor is not entitled to use peremptory challenges to dismiss potential jurors from the defendant's race (Marder,2016).

Dissent opinions:

  • For the dissent, Justice Burger writes that, the reason to have a prosecutor to give cause behind the challenge as well as requiring the court to carry the burden of evidence that challenges did not violate the law or equal protection influence the removal of peremptory challenge
  • In concurrence, Marshall writes that the application of peremptory challenges in the context of the case to distort the members of the jury by dismissing some of them based on racial backgrounds should result in banning of the all the challenges.

The majority of the judges made their conclusions from expert perspectives because of the nature of the case. The case involved different conflicting constitutional principles, the prosecutor was entitled to carry out the dismissal, and on the other hand, the defendant has a right for equal protection. From the context of the cases (racial considerations), the prosecutor violated the law by removing the jurors from Batson's race.


Batson v. Kentucky is a case that faced a lot of controversies based on how it was handled and the outcome of the case. Batson, the petitioner, was convicted for second-degree of burglary and stolen goods. He was then charged for both cases. During the persecution, the use of the peremptory principle is presented and sets the central issues in the case. The persecutor used this principle, which the law entitles to dismiss four blacks from the jury.

The process, however, was inconvenient because the defendant was black, and the remaining jurors were whites. Despite the law allowing the prosecutor to carry out the selection of jurors to balance the jury, the defendants are also protected the law of equal protection. Form this context of the law, the prosecutor failed to consider and instead selected the jurors based on racial backgrounds, and as a result, the defence went ahead to dissolve the jury.

Different scholarly materials have been developed about the use of peremptory challenge and selection of the jurors. Flanagan, 2015, for instance, affirm that peremptory challenges should be carried out to balance the jury and not based on racial background. In cases where the defendant is from a minority group, the prosecutor should consider selecting the jury to address the case and avoid discrimination to avoid violating the law of equal protection rights.

the man issues, in this case, were to determine whether the application of peremptory challenge by the prosecutor violated the law- Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments, and the answer to this was yes. The court had by Powell concluded that the prosecutor violated the law and deprived the defendant's right to equal protection. The case gave rise to the principle that the defendant can undertake prima facie because of discrimination.


Flanagan, F. X. (2015). Peremptory challenges and jury selection. The Journal of Law and Economics, 58(2), 385-416.

Flanagan, F. X. (2018). Race, gender, and juries: Evidence from North Carolina. The Journal of Law and Economics, 61(2), 189-214.

Marder, N. S. (2016). Batson v. Kentucky: Reflections Inspired by a Podcast. Ky. LJ, 105, 621.

Morrison, M., DeVaul-Fetters, A., & Gawronski, B. (2016). Stacking the jury: Legal professionals' peremptory challenges reflect jurors' levels of implicit race bias. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 42(8), 1129-1141.

Price, M. J. (2016). Expanding Reach: The Importance of Batson v. Kentucky Thirty Years On. Ky. LJ, 105, 609.

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