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Seattle v. Erickson, No. 93408-8

Is the use of a peremptory challenge against the only member of a cognizable racial group a prima facie showing of racial discrimination requiring a full Batson analysis by the trial court.

Court

WSSC

Issue

Use of a peremptory challenge on the only member of a cognizable racial group is sufficient to support a prima facie case of discrimination that requires a full Batson analysis.

WACDL Amicus

A prima facie case of discrimination is established based on the use of a peremptory challenge to strike the only member of a cognizable racial group. The fact that there were other members of the venire remaining that were of other cognizable racial groups so there was still diversity remaining in the jury pool does not defeat the prima facie case.

Ruling

7/6/17: WSSC ruled a Batson challenge is timely when brought at the earliest reasonable time while the trial court still has the ability to remedy the wrong, even if after the venire has been dismissed. A peremptory challenge against the only member of a cognizable racial group is a prima facie showing of discrimination that must be recognized by the trial court. The presence of other nonwhite jurors is not relevant to the issue of whether an individual juror was struck because of his or her race.

Justices Gonzalez & Yu concur in the result but argue that difficulty in rooting out discrimination in the justice system using the Batson framework and advocate elimination of peremptory challenges.

WACDL Amicus Authors

Suzanne Elliott, Lila Silverstein

Appellate Authors

Michael Schueler, Philip Chinn

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