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Under the third step of the analysis of allegations of racially-based peremptory challenges, (whether the defendant has carried his burden of proving purposeful discrimination), the persuasiveness of the justification becomes relevant and the ultimate burden of persuasion regarding racial motivation rests with, and never shifts from, the opponent of the strike. Thus, unless a discriminatory intent is inherent in the prosecutor's explanation, the reason offered will be deemed race neutral.
On June 4, 1998, Defendants-Appellants Deborah Walton ("Walton") and Kenneth Marsalis ("Marsalis") were indicted and charged in a two-count indictment, charging each of them with conspiring to carry and take away and carrying and taking away, with intent to steal, approximately $ 90,500.00 from a Citibank branch's automatic teller machine ("ATM"). Walton and Marsalis were both convicted on each count by a jury, and their separate motions for a new trial were summarily denied. The court on June 17, 1999 sentenced Walton to ten months' imprisonment on each count and ordered each of her sentences to run concurrent with each other. The court sentenced Marsalis to twenty-seven months' imprisonment on each count, and also ordered each of his sentences to run concurrent with each other. Each of them were also sentenced to three years supervised release and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $ 90,500.00. The court directed that the order of restitution be paid jointly and severally by Walton, Marsalis and Golliday. Marsalis appealed, arguing that the judge: (1) erred when he found that the government's peremptory strike of a prospective juror was not based on racial discrimination; (2) abused his discretion when he excluded evidence regarding a similar ATM theft at the same location that occurred just four months prior to the instant offense and (3) abused his discretion when he denied his motion for a new trial based on the government's failure to produce the remaining telephone records that he requested until the second day of trial. Walton also appealed, arguing that the court committed error when in its restitution order, it directed that she be held jointly and severally liable for the full amount of restitution.
Did Marsalis sufficiently establish that the strike was motivated by race?
The court found there was an exhaustive inquiry into the peremptory strike, and Marsalis failed to establish the strike was motivated by race. Evidence of the unsolved theft was irrelevant because it was unsolved and was four months prior; it neither tended to prove nor disprove the defendants' involvement here. It could have been prejudicial to defendants. He also failed to establish how the timely disclosure of the missing phone records relating to the unsolved theft impacted the trial. They were immaterial because evidence of investigation into the unsolved theft was excluded. On Walton’s appeal, the trial court was under the mistaken impression that it was required to order her jointly and severally liable for the entire amount of the restitution. Her restitution sentence was reversed.