Facts of the Case

Provided by Oyez

Batson, a black man, was on trial charged with second-degree burglary and receipt of stolen goods. During the jury selection, the prosecutor used his peremptory challenges to strike the four black persons on the venire, resulting in a jury composed of all whites. Batson was convicted on both of the charges against him.



  1. Did the prosecutor's use of peremptory challenges to exclude the four blacks from the jury violate Batson's Sixth and Fourteenth Amendment rights to a fair jury trial and his Fourteenth Amendment right to equal protection of the laws?


  1. The Court found that the prosecutor's actions violated the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments of the Constitution. Relying heavily on precedents set in Strauder v. West Virginia (1880) and Swain v. Alabama (1965), Justice Powell held that racial discrimination in the selection of jurors not only deprives the accused of important rights during a trial, but also is devastating to the community at large because it "undermines public confidence in the fairness of our system of justice." Without identifying a "neutral" reason why the four blacks should have been excluded from the jury, the prosecutor's actions were in violation of the Constitution.