BY THE COURT
Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the
United States Constitution applies to the State's
privilege to strike prospective jurors through peremptory
challenges. An appellate court uses a three-step analysis
established in Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79, 106
S.Ct. 1712, 90 L.Ed.2d 69 (1986), when considering a
challenge that the State exercised its peremptory strikes
based on purposeful racial discrimination.
party who alleges discriminatory selection of the jury has
the burden to prove the existence of purposeful
defendant alleging discriminatory selection of the jury must
make out a prima facie case of purposeful discrimination
under the first step prescribed by Batson. The party
may establish the prima facie case by showing that the
totality of the relevant facts gives rise to an inference of
discriminatory purpose. On appeal, we exercise unlimited
review over a trial court's rulings relating to this
first Batson step.
Under the second step of the analysis required by
Batson, once a party has established a prima facie
case of discriminatory intent, the burden of production
shifts to the party making the peremptory strike to come
forward with a neutral, nondiscriminatory reason for
exercising a peremptory strike. While the burden of
production switches, the burden of persuasion rests with, and
never shifts from, the opponent of the strike.
explanation required in Batson's second step
must be reasonably specific but need not be based solely on
the prospective juror's answers. And while the
justification for exercising the peremptory strike must be
facially valid, it need not necessarily be plausible or
persuasive. If a prosecutor explains a reason for striking a
juror that does not relate to the characteristics of any
particular race, the reason is race-neutral.
State's honest but mistaken belief about a facially valid
race-neutral reason for striking a minority venire member
does not presumptively amount to purposeful discrimination
for purposes of Batson.
Under the third step of the Batson analysis, once
the party making the peremptory strike offers a race-neutral
explanation, the party claiming discriminatory conduct bears
the burden of showing pretext. The trial judge must then
assess the plausibility of the proffered reason for the
strike based on all the evidence. When reviewing this factual
determination, appellate courts accord great deference to the
trial court. On appeal, we review the decision under an abuse
of discretion standard-that is, to determine if the trial
court made an error of law; made an error of fact; or was
otherwise arbitrary, fanciful, or unreasonable.
of the judgment of the Court of Appeals in 53 Kan.App.2d 536,
390 P.3d 84 (2017).
from Lyon District Court; MERLIN G. WHEELER, judge.
Christopher S. O'Hara, of O'Hara & O'Hara
LLC, of Wichita, argued the cause and was on the brief for
Kristafer R. Ailslieger, deputy solicitor general, argued the
cause, and Laura L. Miser, assistant county attorney, Marc
Goodman, county attorney, and Derek Schmidt, attorney
general, were with him on the briefs for appellee.
convicted Jose Alberto Gonzalez-Sandoval of aggravated
indecent liberties with a child. He appealed to the Court of
Appeals, raising four issues. A majority of the Court of
Appeals panel found one argument meritorious. It held the
trial court abused its discretion in not granting
Gonzalez-Sandoval a new trial because of the State's
exercise of a peremptory strike that removed an individual
with a Spanish surname from the jury panel. See State v.
Gonzalez-Sandoval, 53 Kan.App.2d 536, 561-65, 390 P.3d
each party may use peremptory strikes-also called peremptory
challenges-to reject a certain number of potential jurors
without stating a reason. But if another party objects to the
peremptory strike under Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S.
79, 106 S.Ct. 1712, 90 L.Ed.2d 69 (1986), the district court
must follow a specified procedure and allow the peremptory
strike only after determining purposeful discrimination did
not motivate the strike.
objected to the State using a peremptory strike to remove an
individual with a Spanish surname from the pool of potential
jurors. The State responded, in part, by stating the
prospective juror had not been candid when asked during the
jury selection process about having been a witness or having
been interviewed by law enforcement. The district court
determined the State had a race-neutral reason for striking
the potential juror. Later, the State's prosecutors
advised the district court the juror had not been a witness
or been involved in the investigation they mentioned. They
explained how they had made the mistake, and the district
court found that the prosecutors had honestly believed the
reasons they gave for exercising the peremptory strike.
Because one of the State's reasons was race-neutral, the
district court denied Gonzalez-Sandoval's renewed
objection. And after the verdict, the district court denied
Gonzalez-Sandoval's request for a new trial in which he
alleged the State had discriminated during jury selection.
appeal, a majority of the Court of Appeals panel determined
the circumstances showed the peremptory strike was not
race-neutral. The majority thus concluded the district court
should have granted Gonzalez-Sandoval a new trial. See
Gonzalez-Sandoval, 53 Kan.App.2d at 559-71.
State timely sought this court's review.
Gonzalez-Sandoval did not cross-petition to ask for our
review of the Court of Appeals' adverse rulings on his
remaining issues. Thus, the only issue before us is whether
the trial court abused its discretion in denying
Gonzalez-Sandoval's Batson objection.
Gonzalez-Sandoval does not ask us to go outside the
reverse the Court of Appeals and affirm the trial court. The
outcome of this appeal hinges on the trial court's
findings that (1) the State honestly believed the factual
basis it first offered as the reason for its strike and (2)
the reason was not a pretext. These findings relate to
questions of credibility, which this court does not reweigh.
The Court of Appeals suggested reasons, which, if
established, might suggest pretext. But Gonzalez-Sandoval did
not make those arguments and has not met his burden of
establishing the State exercised its peremptory strikes based
on purposeful racial discrimination. Thus, he has failed to
establish that the trial court abused its discretion in
denying his motion for new trial.
and Procedural Background
underlying facts of this case were fully set forth in the
Court of Appeals opinion. See Gonzalez-Sandoval, 53
Kan.App.2d at 537-54. For purposes of this court's
review, the relevant facts relate only to ...