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Floyd v. State

Supreme Court of Alabama

May 29, 2015

Ex parte Christopher Anthony Floyd; In re: Christopher Anthony Floyd
v.
State of Alabama

         Modified on denial of rehearing: August 21, 2015.

         Released for Publication May 28, 2016.

          Appealed from Petition for Writ of Certiorari to the Court of Criminal Appeals (CR-05-0935); Houston Circuit Court (CC-04-1670). Larry K. Anderson, Trial Judge.

         For Petitioner: Randall S. Susskind, Carla C. Crowder, Equal Justice Initiative, Montgomery.

         For Respondent: Luther Strange, Atty. Gen., Kevin W. Blackburn, Asst. Atty. Gen.

         STUART, Justice. Moore, C.J., and Bolin, Parker, Main, and Bryan, JJ., concur. Murdock, J., dissents. Shaw and Wise, JJ., recuse themselves.[*]

         PETITION FOR WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE COURT OF CRIMINAL APPEALS

         STUART, Justice.[1]

         This Court issued a writ of certiorari to determine whether the following holdings of the Court of Criminal Appeals in Christopher Anthony Floyd's appeal from his capital-murder conviction are proper: that the Houston Circuit Court (" the trial court" ) did not err in holding that the State provided valid race-and gender-neutral reasons for its exercise of its peremptory strikes during jury selection, that the trial court did not err by refusing to admit into evidence all of Floyd's statements made to law-enforcement officers, and that the trial court did not err in denying Floyd's motion for a new trial based on newly discovered evidence. We affirm.

         Facts and Procedural History

         In 2005 Floyd was convicted of the murder of Waylon Crawford. The murder was made capital because it was committed during a robbery, see § 13A-5-40(a)(2), Ala. Code 1975. Floyd was sentenced to death. In selecting the jury for Floyd's case, the prosecutor and Floyd's counsel exercised a total of 36 peremptory challenges. The State used its 18 challenges to remove 10 of 11 African-American veniremembers and 12 of 18 female veniremembers. Floyd's counsel removed one African-American and seven female veniremembers. The jury consisted of six white male jurors, six white female jurors, two alternate white male jurors and one alternate African-American female juror. Floyd did not object to the jury based on Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79, 106 S.Ct. 1712, 90 L.Ed.2d 69 (1986)(prohibiting racial discrimination in jury selection), or J.E.B. v. Alabama, 511 U.S. 127, 114 S.Ct. 1419, 128 L.Ed.2d 89 (1994)(prohibiting gender discrimination in jury selection).

         On direct appeal, the Court of Criminal Appeals held that the record indicated that the prosecutor's use of his peremptory challenges created a prima facie case of discrimination under both Batson and J.E.B. That court remanded the case for the trial court to conduct a Batson/J.E.B. hearing. Floyd v. State, [Ms. CR-05-0935, Sept. 28, 2007] __ So.3d __, (Ala.Crim.App. 2007).

         On remand, the trial court conducted a hearing and required the prosecutor, Gary Maxwell,[2] to provide explanations for the exercised peremptory challenges. Before providing explanations for his peremptory challenges, the prosecutor explained his general practice in selecting a jury for a capital case:

" In a capital murder case where voir dire is extensive, and ordinarily the process lasts a day or longer, I try to rate each and every juror initially on gut reaction. If you will look at State's Exhibit 1 there, in black outside of a lot of the juror's names, I will write 'Okay.' I will write just a dash for a minus. I might write a plus, being -- minuses are bad gut reaction, pluses are a good gut reaction. Okay is just okay. All right.
" Also, in doing so -- I do that when the clerk is calling the names of the jurors and asking them to stand. Now, also, as is the Court's practice -- when I say the Court, the list that we have, I will put a 'B' outside of the names of those who are black. I do that not only from the appearance in court but from the jury list that's propounded by the clerk's office.[3]
" ....
" I have done this same procedure, the initial gut reaction rating system, for over 30 years. It's proven to be pretty accurate, I think. Then as questioning proceeds -- I adjust those ratings based on responses or lack of responses to the questions, questions the Court asks, questions the State asks, and the questions that the defendant propounds as to whether I feel they would favor the State or the defense, on their demeanor, the way they answer the questions, and not just the answer to the questions, the answer or again their failure to respond.
" Now, ... I do that second rating system basically in red. I may go back, I may change a minus to a plus. I may change a plus to a minus.
" Ultimately, I try to strike those most likely to lean towards the defense, not on race. I consider such factors as their age, their place of employment or lack of employment, their physical ability based on appearance, and/or responses to the questions that the Court propounds or the attorneys propound or on their failure to respond to questions. If they appear to be having a hard time understanding the Court's instructions or questions or those questions of the attorneys, I take that into consideration. If they do not pay attention, if they daydream, act as if they are bored or just don't care, I take that into consideration in this second rating system.
" In my rating system, for example, Juror [no. 30/]J.B.,[4] who was struck by the defense, I considered to be an excellent juror for the State. And I think you can see that on my list out there, that there is a plus beside [Juror no. 30/J.B.'s] name.
" The State seeks jurors who are stable members of the community and due to the complexity of a capital murder case, we prefer jurors who have had jury experience and who have rendered a guilty verdict in the past. We prefer jurors who have jobs or education that requires concentration and attention to detail and also analysis.
" A juror's demeanor or body language, his lack of eye contact with attorneys when they are asking questions can be a factor especially when he appears disinterested or shows more animosity towards the prosecution or law enforcement.
" So that's just a basic background of what I do in preparation for striking the jury."

         After explaining his methodology for selecting a jury, the prosecutor offered the following reasons for his exercised peremptory strikes of African-Americans and females:

Prospective juror no. 28/P.B.: The prosecutor stated that he struck P.B., an African-American female, because P.B. had 32 bad-check cases, her probation had been revoked, and she was in the same age range as Floyd.
Prospective juror no. 43/J.B.: The prosecutor stated that he struck J.B., an African-American male, because J.B. had two convictions for harassment and had approximately 12 traffic tickets with the City of Dothan.
Prospective juror no. 59/M.C.: The prosecutor stated that he struck M.C., an African-American female, because M.C. initially indicated that she could not vote for the death penalty and was personally opposed to capital punishment, and because she vacillated when questioned by the trial court.
Prospective juror no. 38/K.B.: The prosecutor stated that he struck K.B., an African-American male, because K.B. had been convicted of disorderly conduct, because he knew a potential witness who was rumored to have been involved in the commission of the offense charged, and because a member of law enforcement had indicated that he would be a bad juror for the State.
Prospective juror no. 46/T.C.: The prosecutor stated that he struck T.C., an African-American female, because T.C. had six convictions and her brother had felony convictions, because during voir dire she questioned the veracity of testimony from members of law enforcement, and because of her familiarity with members of the district attorney's office as a result of that office's prosecution of her and her brother.
Prospective juror no. 57/A.C.: The prosecutor stated that he struck A.C., an African-American female, because A.C. had been convicted of theft and negotiating worthless negotiable instruments.
Prospective juror no. 60/L.C.: The prosecutor stated that he struck L.C., an African-American female, because he believed that L.C. was " too familiar with everybody involved" in the case because she knew the defense attorneys, members of the district attorney's office, and the forensic pathologist who performed the autopsy on the victim. He further explained that he believed L.C.'s expressed religious beliefs would impact her ability to sit in judgment of the accused.
Prospective juror no. 19/D.B.: The prosecutor stated that he struck D.B., an African-American female, because she was inattentive during voir dire. The prosecutor further stated that D.B. failed to make eye contact with members of the prosecution team, but at times during voir dire nodded in agreement with defense counsel.
Prospective juror no. 58/I.C.: The prosecutor stated that he struck I.C., an African-American female, because I.C. did not respond to any questions during voir dire and the prosecution did not know anything about her.
Prospective juror no. 51/R.C.: The prosecutor stated that he struck R.C., an African-American female who ultimately served as an alternate juror, because R.C. was 77 years of age and he had concerns, based on her demeanor during voir dire and the length and complexity of the case, that she would be able to serve as a juror.
Prospective juror no. 5/T.M.A.: The prosecutor stated that he struck T.M.A., a Caucasian female, because of her age. He further stated that, although he could not provide a specific reason, his initial impression of T.M.A. was that she would not be a good ...

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