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Friday, December 07, 2007

Ind. Decisions - 7th Circuit decides one Indiana appeal today

In U.S. v. Taylor (ND Ind., Judge Norgle, Sr.), a 20-page opinion, Judge Rovner writes:

Styles Taylor and Keon Thomas, both African-American, were jointly tried for the armed robbery of a gun store and the murder of its elderly owner, who was Caucasian. The government sought the death penalty for both men, but ultimately they were sentenced to life imprisonment after the jury found them guilty. Taylor and Thomas contend that their convictions are tainted by the government’s use of peremptory challenges to strike African Americans from the jury pool, in violation of Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79 (1986). Additionally, Taylor alone argues that his rights under the Confrontation Clause were violated at trial. For the reasons set forth in the following opinion, we conclude that the district court did not commit clear error in resolving the bulk of the defendants’ challenges under Batson. However, we are unable to draw this conclusion with respect to potential juror Heshla Watson because the district court did not put factual findings on the record regarding the credibility of the government’s reason for striking her. For that reason we will remand to the district court for supplemental factfinding on this point. Finally, we reject Taylor’s Confrontation Clause argument because it does not implicate the improper admission of testimonial evidence.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on December 7, 2007 12:15 PM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions