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Case Number: 20-3136
Judge: William J. Nardini
Court: United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit on appeal from the Northern District of New York (Albany County)
Defendant's Attorney: Jodi A. Danzig
Description: Albany, New York criminal defense lawyer represent Plaintiff, who sued defendant seeking a writ of habeas corpus.
Petitioner-Appellant Kareem Murray was convicted of second-
degree murder and other offenses in New York state court. During
jury selection, Murray’s lawyer exercised peremptory strikes against
two male jurors, but the prosecutor raised a “reverse-Batson”
challenge—that is, a claim that the defendant (rather than the
prosecution) was using strikes in a discriminatory manner. See Batson
v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79 (1986); Georgia v. McCollum, 505 U.S. 42 (1992).
The state court disallowed the two strikes, and Murray was convicted.
Murray petitioned unsuccessfully for habeas corpus relief under 28
U.S.C. § 2254 in the United States District Court for the Northern
District of New York (James K. Singleton, Judge.). On appeal, Murray
renews his challenge to the state court’s reverse-Batson ruling. We
need not determine whether the state court properly applied Batson
or erred in disallowing the two peremptory strikes, because those
claims are not cognizable under § 2254. The Supreme Court has held
that a state defendant has no freestanding federal constitutional right
to peremptory strikes, and so a state court’s mistaken disallowance of
such a strike does not, standing alone, form a basis for federal habeas
relief. See Rivera v. Illinois, 556 U.S. 148, 157–58 (2009). Likewise, any
procedural error by the state court in following the three-step Batson
framework would not, without more, constitute a violation of a
federal constitutional right.