United States v. Tomlinson, No. 13-5625 (6th Cir. 2014)Annotate this Case
Charged with unlawful possession of a rifle, Tomlinson was represented by an Assistant Federal Public Defender. The venire included 36 prospective jurors. The court awarded Tomlinson 10 peremptory challenges and the government six. The court and counsel questioned the jurors. After each of three rounds consisting of “for cause” review, followed by peremptory challenges, both counsel stated that they had no objections to the strikes of the other party. In the fourth round, each party exercised its last peremptory strike. Tomlinson objected to the government’s strike against Jackson, an African American woman, stating: “I think we are going to bring a Batson challenge. I think all of the strikes by the government were African-Americans.” The court ruled that Tomlinson had waived any objection to the government’s first five strikes by failing to object earlier. After the prosecutor stated race-neutral reasons for striking Jackson, defense counsel renewed her objection and reiterated that all six of the government’s peremptory strikes were used against African Americans. The court analyzed Tomlinson’s objection only with respect to Jackson and explained why it was persuaded that the strike was not based on race. The trial continued and the jury convicted Tomlinson. The Sixth Circuit reversed. Tomlinson’s Batson objection was timely because he raised it before the jury was sworn and the trial commenced.