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Miller-El v. Dretke

United States Supreme Court
 545 U.S. 231 (2005)


Facts

Miller-El was tried for capital murder. During jury selection, Miller-El objected to the prosecution’s use of peremptory strikes to dismiss ten black prospective jurors. He argued the strikes were impermissibly based on race and requested that a new jury be selected. The trial court denied his request and held that the evidence put forth was not enough to grant Miller-El relief under the current standard because he did not show systematic discrimination. Miller-El was convicted and sentenced to death. While his case was being appealed, the standard for granting relief for discrimination during jury selection was changed by the decision in Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79 (1986). Under Batson, the proof of systematic discrimination requirement was replaced by a requirement of proof that the prosecutor was racially biased during jury selection. In light of this change, the appellate court remanded Miller-El’s case to the trial court. The trial court held that Miller-El did not establish that the prosecutor used peremptory strikes to dismiss jurors based on race because the prosecutor gave acceptable race-neutral reasons for the strikes. The appellate court affirmed that judgment. Miller-El petitioned for habeas corpus relief in federal district court but was denied. The appellate court denied a certificate of appealability. The Supreme Court granted certiorari and reversed the appellate court to allow an appeal. The appellate court granted a certificate of appealability but rejected Miller-El’s claim that the prosecutor was racially biased during jury selection. The Supreme Court granted certiorari again.

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Holding and Reasoning (Souter, J.)

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Concurrence (Breyer, J.)

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Dissent (Thomas, J.)

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