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Scott v. Gelb

United States Court of Appeals, First Circuit

January 13, 2016

DARRYL SCOTT, Petitioner, Appellant,
v.
BRUCE GELB, Respondent, Appellee

As Amended January 21, 2016.

Page 95

APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF MASSACHUSETTS. [Hon. Douglas P. Woodlock, U.S. District Judge].

Barbara J. Sweeney, for appellant.

Thomas E. Bocian, Assistant Attorney General, Criminal Bureau, with whom Maura Healey, Attorney General of Massachusetts, was on brief, for appellee.

Before Howard, Chief Judge, Torruella and Barron, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Page 96

TORRUELLA, Circuit Judge.

Darryl Scott, petitioner-appellant, contests the district court's denial of his petition for a writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Scott, who is African-American, argues that Massachusetts state courts unreasonably applied Batson v. Kentucky, which held that the Equal Protection Clause prohibits prosecutors from challenging potential jurors on the basis of race. 476 U.S. 79, 89, 106 S.Ct. 1712, 90 L.Ed.2d 69 (1979). After careful consideration, we affirm the district court's denial of habeas corpus relief.

I. Background

Petitioner Darryl Scott was convicted of murder in the first degree, two counts of armed assault with intent to kill, assault with a dangerous weapon, and " various firearms offenses" by a jury in the Massachusetts Superior Court (" Superior Court" ) following the shooting death of Nabil Essaid in December 2002 and an attempt to evade police in February 2003. Commonwealth v. Scott, 463 Mass. 561, 977 N.E.2d 490, 493 (Mass. 2012). The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (" SJC" ) has ably detailed the events leading to these charges as they could have been found by the jury, id. at 494-97, and they do not bear restatement here. The sole issue before us concerns the jury selection proceedings in the Superior Court.

A. Jury Selection in the Superior Court

Jury selection took place over two days, April 7 and 10, 2006. On the first day of jury selection, the prosecutor sought a peremptory challenge against Juror No. 5-16, an African-American man. Defense counsel objected under Commonwealth v. Soares, 377 Mass. 461, 387 N.E.2d 499, 511-12, 515-16 (Mass. 1979), which bars the use of peremptory challenges to " exclude members of discrete groups." Id. at 516. The judge then asked the prosecutor, " Why?" The prosecutor cited Juror No. 5-16's responses to the court's inquiry about concerns over the length of the trial -- namely, that Juror No. 5-16 had an upcoming job interview and was expecting a child that month. The judge responded that Juror No. 5-16 was " one of the few black males in the room," adding, " [t]here's no difference between him and anyone else that's been up here as a juror, other than the fact that he's going to have a child." The prosecutor tried once more: " Your Honor, the other consideration, seemingly he didn't want to be here." The judge replied, " Nobody wants to be here. None of those people seated over there wants to be here. I'm not going to give you that." The judge then seated Juror No. 5-16.

On the second day of jury selection, the prosecutor challenged Juror No. 10-10, an African-American ...


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