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Johnson v. State

Florida Court of Appeals, First District

January 22, 2018

De Vanta Lamont Johnson, Appellant,
v.
State of Florida, Appellee.

         Not final until disposition of any timely and authorized motion under Fla. R. App. P. 9.330 or 9.331.

         On appeal from the Circuit Court for Duval County. Linda F. McCallum, Judge.

          Andy Thomas, Public Defender, and M. J. Lord, Assistant Public Defender, Tallahassee, for Appellant.

          Pamela Jo Bondi, Attorney General, and Michael Schaub, Assistant Attorney General, for Appellee.

          Wetherell, J.

         The defendant raises four issues in this direct appeal of his judgment and sentence. We affirm and write only to address the defendant's argument that the trial court erred in disallowing his use of a peremptory challenge.

         I

         During jury selection, after defense counsel used a peremptory challenge on prospective juror 14, the prosecutor asked for a "race neutral reason" because "the defense has used a strike on all four males that have been available for the panel." In response, defense counsel stated:

my client indicated that he got a bad feeling from that person and . . . he asked me to strike that person based on the fact that I didn't as well have any thoughts regarding that he would be positive for us. I felt like that would be an appropriate strike, but it was initiated by my client.

         Then, after the trial court stated-without objection from defense counsel-that "the bottom line is there is no reason other than [defense counsel's] client doesn't want him, " the prosecutor argued:

I don't think that the case law supports a person saying I have a bad feeling. The state certainly couldn't get away with that, and so I do not believe that would be a valid basis for a strike, and so . . . I would make my objection based upon the lack of reason provided.

         The trial court agreed with the prosecutor and disallowed the challenge. As a result, prospective juror 14 served on the jury that convicted the defendant.

         II

         We review the trial court's ruling on whether to allow a peremptory challenge for clear error. See Melbourne v. ...


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