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People v. Douglas

In a recent case, People v. Douglas – filed April 11, 2017, in the Third District ofCalifornia, 2017 S.O.S. 1906, the court held that excluding prospective jurors solely onthe basis of sexual orientation is violative of due process and equal protection. Where aprosecutor shows both neutral and non-neutral basis for excusing gay veniremen, theexcusal is justified only if it can be shown that the prospective jurors would have beenchallenged even without considering their sexual orientation. Both the state and federalconstitutions prohibit using peremptory challenges to remove prospective jurors basedsolely on group bias. Such a practice also violates the defendant's right to equalprotection under the 14th amendment to the United States Constitution. The AppellateCourt ruled that the trial court must conduct a hearing to determine whether the sexualorientation based reasons for challenging the jurors were not determinative and thatthere were neutral and non-discriminatory reasons supporting the challenges. If the trialcourt were to determine that the sexual orientation based reasons were determinative,that is, there were no supportable neutral and non-discriminatory reasons for thechallenges, the trial court would have to order a new trial.