Essay: Racial issues in criminal proceedings

A. Explain what recourse a defendant has if he or she thinks the prosecutor is using racial reasons as a basis for excluding persons from serving on the defendant’s jury.

There are several legal rights a suspect has in regards to discrimination in the court system. The six Amendment states, ‘all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by and impartial jury for the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation.’

If discrimination is proven in a criminal case, the recourse could mean a retrial, mistrial or even having the case thrown out because it violated his /her Amendments rights. In this case, Johnson v. California the Supreme Court reversed the conviction of the trial. The prosecutor had disqualified some black prospective jurors from serving merely because of their race and offered a method to contest racially discriminatory efforts to keep African Americans from jury service (Ingram, L 2009).

B. Describe the case Johnson v. California Supreme Court of the United States 545 U.S. 162 (2005).

In this court proceeding, a trial jury convicted suspect Jay Shawn Johnson, and African American, of the assault and second-degree murder in 1998 of his girlfriend nineteen-month-old white child. Throughout the jury selection, a number of potential jurors were removed, until only 43 qualified jurors remained, three of whom were African American and the other 41 were identified as white members of the panel. The prosecutor used three of his twelve peremptory challenges to remove the only three black jurors, resulting in an all-white jury.

C. Explain the rulings in the Case.

The rulings of this case could later change the structure of the court system for many states. However, the California court system not to remove racial discrimination from there courts, the court believed that the individual making an accusation of racial discrimination did not need to demonstrate that and the event was not racially motivated by the preponderance of the evidence; because a lower standard served justice much better. Preponderance of evidence is determines by the judge jury etc’ has a greater probability of being truthful or accurate, generally 51%. I believe in this case, it did not necessarily include the volume of evidence presented. Johnson also stated that the state of California stands alone within the American court system with it more harsh constraint to show facie case resulting in his conviction and his denied retrial.


Ingram, J. L. (2009). In J. L. Ingram, Second Edition Criminal Procedure Theory and Practice
Upper Saddle River: Pearson Prentice Call.

Source: Essay UK -

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