Roger Barber v. JTEKT Automotive Virginia, Inc., No. 12-1734 (4th Cir. 2013)

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UNPUBLISHED UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FOURTH CIRCUIT No. 12-1734 ROGER BARBER; EDDIE SIMMONS, JR., Plaintiffs Appellants, and ERIC GODFREY; RYAN YOUNG, for themselves and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs, v. JTEKT AUTOMOTIVE VIRGINIA, INC.; JTEKT NORTH AMERICA, INC., Defendants - Appellees. Appeal from the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia, at Roanoke. Glen E. Conrad, Chief District Judge. (7:09-cv-00441-GEC) Submitted: February 28, 2013 Decided: March 11, 2013 Before WILKINSON, NIEMEYER, and AGEE, Circuit Judges. Affirmed by unpublished per curiam opinion. Terry N. Grimes, TERRY N. GRIMES, P.C., Roanoke, Virginia, for Appellants. Thomas M. Winn, III, Victor O. Cardwell, Frank K. Friedman, Frank H. Hupfl, WOODS ROGERS PLC, Roanoke, Virginia, for Appellees. Unpublished opinions are not binding precedent in this circuit. 2 PER CURIAM: After a trial, a federal jury found for the Appellees on the Appellants discrimination claims, and the district court entered judgment in accordance with the verdict. The Appellants argue on appeal that the district court erred in allowing the Appellees to use one of their peremptory strikes to strike the only African-American juror from the venire and in admitting evidence containing hearsay at trial. For the reasons that follow, we affirm. The Appellants first challenge the district court s rejection of their challenge to the Appellees use of one of their peremptory strikes juror from the venire. to strike the only African-American Before the district court, the Appellees stated that they had struck the juror because he was the only member of the venire without an education above grade school and the district court found this to be a legitimate, race-neutral explanation for use of the strike. The Equal Protection Clause prevents racial discrimination in the exercise of peremptory strikes at a civil jury trial. See Edmonson v. Leesville Concrete Co., 500 U.S. 614, 618-28 (1991); see also Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79 (1986). When a party makes a Batson challenge, that party must first establish a prima facie case that the strike was made on the basis of race; the burden then shifts to the striking party 3 to provide a non-discriminatory reason for the use of the strike; the challenging party must then show that the proffered reasons are pretextual and that intentional discrimination. the other party engaged in United States v. Dinkins, 691 F.3d 358, 380 (4th Cir. 2012) (citations omitted), petition for cert. filed (U.S. Dec. 21, 2012) (No. 12-7923). Further, [w]e accord great deference to the district court s finding as to whether a peremptory challenge was exercised for a prohibited, discriminatory reason; we review that finding for clear error. United States v. Green, 599 F.3d 360, 377 (4th Cir. 2010). This is so because the outcome of a typical Batson challenge turns largely on an evaluation of credibility and whether counsel s race-neutral believed, explanation a for determination a that especially well suited to make. Applying these standards and particular the challenge district court is is Dinkins, 691 F.3d at 379. having thoroughly reviewed the record, we conclude that the district court did not commit clear error in accepting the Appellees reason for striking the juror. The Appellants next argue that the court erred in admitting in evidence an email that contained hearsay statements by a non-testifying witness. We review a trial court s rulings on the admissibility of evidence for abuse of discretion, and we will only overturn an evidentiary ruling that is arbitrary and irrational. United States v. Cole, 631 F.3d 146, 153 (4th Cir. 4 2011) (internal quotation marks omitted). We will not set aside or reverse a judgment on the grounds that evidence was erroneously admitted unless justice so requires or a party s substantial rights are affected. Creekmore v. Maryview Hosp., 662 F.3d 686, 693 (4th Cir. 2011) (citing Fed. R. Civ. P. 61). After reviewing the record, we conclude that the court did not commit reversible error in admitting the evidence. Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the district court. legal before We dispense with oral argument because the facts and contentions this court are adequately and argument presented would not in aid the the materials decisional process. AFFIRMED 5