Porter v. Coyne-Fague, No. 21-1333 (1st Cir. 2022)Annotate this Case
The First Circuit reversed the decision of the district court that the prosecutor in the underlying Rhode Island case transgressed the Batson rule in the course of jury selection but that Petitioner was not entitled to habeas corpus relief, holding that the decision of the Rhode Island Supreme Court could not withstand habeas review.
Petitioner, a Rhode Island state prisoner and an African-American man who was convicted of murder and other crimes, claimed in his petition for writ of habeas corpus that the prosecutor violated Batson during jury selection. The federal district court concluded that Petitioner's rights under Batson were violated but that the Rhode Island Supreme Court did not abuse its discretion in finding sufficient race-neutral reasons for a peremptory challenge against the juror in question. The First Circuit reversed, holding (1) the prosecutor's explanation for his peremptory strike was not race-neutral on its face and thus violated Batson; and (2) the Rhode Island Supreme Court's decision rested on either an unreasonable application of clearly established federal law, an unreasonable determination of the facts, or both.