United States v. Hernandez-Estrada

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Law
  • Date Filed: 12-05-2012
  • Case #: 11-50417
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Hurwitz for the Court; Circuit Judge Watford; Concurrence by Chief Judge Kozinski
  • Full Text Opinion

To successfully plead violations of the Jury Selection Service Act of 1968, a plaintiff must show a substantial interference with the "Act's key goals of randomness and objectivity."

Salvador Hernandez-Estrada (“Estrada”), an illegal alien indicted for being in violation of 8 U.S.C. § 1326, sought an appeal of his motion to dismiss, “arguing that the Southern District violated the [Jury Selection Service Act of 1968] (“JSSA”) and the Fifth and Sixth Amendments by using a juror source list consisting only of registered voters.” Specifically, Estrada argued that African-American and Hispanic populations were underrepresented. Estrada also asserted various violations of the JSAA, including “improperly disqualifying jurors for having insufficient English-language abilities” and “failing to return questionnaires that omitted information on race and/or ethnicity.” The Ninth Circuit found that Hispanics were overrepresented by 2.1% and African Americans were underrepresented by 1.7%. However, because neither percentage is close to the 7.7% disparity allowed under the “absolute disparity test,” Estrada’s Sixth Amendment claim failed. Estrada’s Equal Protection claim under the Fifth Amendment also failed, because Estrada was unable to prove any discriminatory intent. With regard to Estrada’s statutory claims, the Ninth Circuit acknowledged that the Southern District of California failed to comply with the JSSA by disqualifying jurors based on a “no” answer to “whether jurors ‘read, write, speak and understand the English language,” and by failing “to return questionnaires to prospective jurors who failed to answer the questions on race and/or ethnicity.” However, the Ninth Circuit held that the Southern District’s actions did not “frustrate the Act’s goals and do not warrant merits relief.” Further, the violations were not substantial “because it did not interfere with the Act’s key goals of randomness and objectivity.” That being said, the Ninth Circuit “cautioned the Southern District to take note of the statutory violations identified and amend its practices in the future.” AFFIRMED.

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