Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Exclusion of Juror Wearing Dreadlocks Held Impermissible Under Batson

In McCrea v. Gheraibeh, (SC Sup. Ct., Oct. 27, 2008), the South Carolina Supreme Court, in a 3-2 decision, held that counsel in a civil case failed to show that his peremptory striking of an African-American juror because he was wearing dreadlocks was race neutral. The majority held: "Regardless of their gradual infiltration into mainstream American society, dreadlocks retain their roots as a religious and social symbol of historically black cultures. For this reason, we hold that counsel’s explanation that the juror's dreadlocks caused him 'uneasiness' was insufficient to satisfy the race-neutral requirement in the second step of the trial court's Batson analysis."