Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Friday, March 15, 2013

Adkins: Habeas relief for Batson violation

In Adkins v. Warden, No. 11-12389 (Feb. 27, 2013) (2-1), the Court granted habeas relief to an Alabama inmate sentenced to death for a 1988 murder, finding that the State exercised peremptory strikes to eliminate potential black jurors in violation of Batson v. Kentucky.

The Court found that the Alabama court failed to consider “all relevant circumstances” in determining whether the exclusion of black jurors resulted from “purposeful discrimination “ The State used peremptory strikes to exclude nine of eleven eligible black jurors. The prosecutor noted the race of every black veniremember, and only black veniremembers, on the jury list the prosecutor relied upon in striking the jury, marking each of them with a “BM” or “BF.” The prosecutor’s reasons for striking jurors were contradicted by the record. An ex parte affidavit prepared by the prosecution was relied on.

Reviewing the State’s use of peremptory challenges de novo, the Court found that the strikes were used in a discriminatory manner. The Court noted that the reasons the prosecutor gave for excluding black jurors were not the basis for excluding similarly-situated white jurors.