McDaniels v. Kirkland

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Habeas Corpus
  • Date Filed: 07-25-2014
  • Case #: 09-17339; 11-15030
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Wallace for the Court; Circuit Judges Bybee and Farris
  • Full Text Opinion

A court is not required to sua sponte augment a trial record to allow for comprehensive comparative juror analysis when making a determination of whether racial discrimination occurred during jury selection.

In a joint trial, Robert McDaniels and Richard J. Kirkland were convicted of first degree murder and other crimes. Both men petitioned for habeas corpus relief alleging the prosecutor in their trial wrongfully excluded African-American jurors based on race. When McDaniels and Kirkland raised the issue in the trial court, the judge found they had made a prima facie case of discrimination but, after a hearing on the issue, found a lack of racism. The California Court of Appeal applied the Batson v. Kentucky test: 1) the defendant must make a prima facie showing that exclusion of a potential juror was based on race; 2) the prosecution must offer a race-neutral basis for excluding the juror; and, 3) the court must determine whether purposeful discrimination is found. One method employed by a court to make its determination is comparative juror analysis. However, the burden lies on counsel to remedy any defects in the record to ensure a comprehensive record to review. The California Court of Appeal and the California Supreme Court affirmed the convictions. McDaniels and Kirkland separately petitioned the Ninth Circuit and the appeals were considered simultaneously. The Ninth Circuit held that the California Court of Appeal had been reasonable in applying Batson to the record it had before it. The panel held that a court is not required to sua sponte augment a trial record to allow for comprehensive comparative juror analysis when making a determination of whether racial discrimination occurred during jury selection. The burden to ensure a comprehensive trial record remains on counsel. Here, counsel did not move to include any missing voir dire and questionnaires to aid the court’s decision. AFFIRMED.

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