State v. Waring, 364 N.C. 443 (Nov. 5, 2010)

The trial court did not err in denying a capital defendant’s Batson challenge when the defendant failed to established a prima facie case that the prosecutor’s use of a peremptory challenge against Juror Rogers, an African-American female, was motivated by race. Because Ms. Rogers was the first prospective juror peremptorily challenged, there was no pattern of disproportionate use of challenges against African-Americans. Ms. Rogers was the only juror who stated, when first asked, that she was personally opposed to the death penalty. (2) The trial court did not err in denying a capital defendant’s Batson challenge to the State’s peremptory challenge of a second juror. There did not appear to be a systematic effort by the State to prevent African-Americans from serving when the State accepted 50% of African-American prospective jurors. The prosecutor’s race-neutral reasons were that the juror had not formulated views on the death penalty, did not read the newspaper or watch the news, had been charged with a felony, and gave information regarding disposition of that charge that was inconsistent with AOC records. Considering these reasons in the context of the prosecutor’s examination of similarly situated whites who were not peremptorily challenged, the court found they were not pretextual and that race was not a significant factor in the strike. (3) The court rejected the defendant’s argument that a remand was required for further findings of fact under Snyder v. Louisiana, 552 U.S. 472 (2008). Unlike in Snyder, the case at hand did not involve peremptory challenges involving demeanor or other intangible observations that cannot be gleaned from the record. However, the court stated that “[c]onsistent with Snyder, we encourage the trial courts to make findings . . . to elucidate aspects of the jury selection process that are not preserved on the cold record so that review of such subjective factors as nervousness will be possible.”