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State v. Raynor

Supreme Court of Connecticut

December 24, 2019

STATE of Connecticut

         Argued January 16, 2019

         Superior Court, Judicial District of Hartford, Edward J. Mullarkey, J.

          Alice Osedach, assistant public defender, for the appellant (defendant).

         Timothy J. Sugrue, assistant state’s attorney, with whom, on the brief, were Gail P. Hardy, state’s attorney, and David L. Zagaja, senior assistant state’s attorney, for the appellee (state).

         Robinson, C.J., and Palmer, McDonald, D’Auria, Kahn, Ecker and Vertefeuille, Js.


          PER CURIAM.

Page 402

          [334 Conn. 266] The defendant, James Raynor, appeals, upon our grant of his petition for certification,[1] from the judgment of the Appellate Court affirming his conviction, rendered after a jury trial, of assault in the first degree as an accessory in violation of General Statutes § § 53a-59 (a) (5) and 53a-8, and conspiracy to commit assault in the first degree in violation of General Statutes § § 53a-59 (a) (5) and 53a-48. State v. Raynor, 175 Conn.App. 409, 412-13, 167 A.3d 1076 (2017). On appeal, the defendant claims that the Appellate Court incorrectly concluded that that the record was inadequate to review his challenge under Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79, 106 S.Ct. 1712, 90 L.Ed.2d 69 (1986), to the prosecutor’s exercise of a peremptory challenge on prospective juror R.E.[2] on the basis of his employment [334 Conn. 267] history, even though the record does not indicate the race or ethnicity of both R.E. and one of the two jurors, I.L. and G.H., whom the defendant highlighted as examples of disparate treatment by the prosecutor. In response, the state disagrees and also proffers, as an alternative ground for affirmance, that the trial court did not commit clear error in finding that the prosecutor did not engage in purposeful discrimination when he peremptorily challenged R.E. We affirm the judgment of the Appellate Court.

          The Appellate Court’s opinion sets forth the following relevant facts and procedural history. "Jury selection occurred over the course of two days, October 30 and 31, 2014. On the first day of jury selection, the parties conducted voir dire of a prospective juror, R.E. Prior to defense counsel’s questioning of R.E., the court inquired as to whether R.E. would suffer any financial hardship by participating in jury duty. In response, R.E. initially informed the court that, although he worked part-time, his shift began at 4:30 p.m. and ... his job was within walking distance of the courthouse. The court then asked R.E. to contact his employer to determine whether he would be compensated for any work he missed or, alternatively, whether he would be able to begin his shift after 5 p.m. After speaking with his employer, R.E. stated that, if he were selected to serve, he would be able to start his shifts after the court had adjourned for the day, and thus he had no financial concerns about being selected as a juror.

          "Thereafter, defense counsel questioned R.E. as to whether he could keep an open

Page 403

mind, determine which witnesses were credible, follow the court’s instructions on the law, and engage in a free exchange of ideas with his fellow jurors during deliberations. R.E. answered in the affirmative to each of these questions. Thereafter, the following colloquy occurred during the prosecutor’s voir dire of R.E.:

[334 Conn. 268] " ‘[The Prosecutor]: ... You’re from Hartford?

" ‘[R.E.]: Yes.

" ‘[The Prosecutor]: You haven’t heard anything about this incident—

" ‘[R.E.]: No, sir.

" ‘[The Prosecutor]: — which was presented to you? None of the names that were listed to you sounded familiar—

" ‘[R.E.]: No, sir.

" ‘[The Prosecutor]: — anything like that? So, you’re [employed] at Easter Seals. You’ve been there for how long? You said about four years?

" ‘[R.E.]: Four years.

* * *

" ‘[The Prosecutor]: Have you ever had anyone close to you, friends, family members, anyone like that, that has been the victim of a crime?

" ‘[R.E.]: No, sir.

" ‘[The Prosecutor]: And if you were to hear information about drugs within this trial, do you think you could still consider that information and make your decisions or would you be turned off by that?

" ‘[R.E.]: I could still make my decision.

" ‘[The Prosecutor]: Okay. Still be open-minded and consider all the information—

" ‘[R.E.]: Yes.

" ‘[The Prosecutor]: — presented?

" ‘[R.E.]: Yes, sir.

[334 Conn. 269] " ‘[The Prosecutor]: Is there anything either of us have left out that you think would— would be important to tell us about your ability to sit here as a juror?

" ‘[R.E.]: No, sir.

" ‘[The Prosecutor]: Great. Thanks for your time.’

"Thereafter, R.E. exited the courtroom, and the following colloquy occurred:

" ‘[Defense Counsel]: Accepted.

" ‘[The Prosecutor]: Excused.

" ‘[Defense Counsel]: Your Honor, I would ask for a gender or a race neutral explanation or basis.

" ‘[The Prosecutor]: Should I give one?

" ‘[The Court]: Yes.

" ‘[The Prosecutor]: It would be his employment history, Your Honor, and just basically his sense of security. I do have concerns also that he’s from Hartford, although he did indicate that he knew nothing about the offense.

" ‘[Defense Counsel]: Your Honor, if I may. We have two Caucasian women on the panel at this point in time. He answered all the questions, in my view at least, and I think counsel would agree, honestly. He didn’t express any reservations about security. Being from Hartford is not a bar to be in this case. He did not express any familiarity with the case. I think he answered all the questions right. I think he’s got a right to serve on this panel.

" ‘[The Prosecutor]: I think I presented a race ...

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