Rivera tried to strike a juror in his Illinois state court trial. The trial judge said no, finding a Batson violation, and seated the juror. All sides agree now that was a mistake, and the peremptory strike was proper.
So does Rivera get a new trial? That's what he argued to the Supreme Court. Finding hope in the Court's 1965 Swain v. Alabama pronouncement that "[t]he denial or impairment of the right [to exercise peremptory challenges] is reversible error without a showing of prejudice," Rivera argued the trial judge's mistake violated his constitutional right to due process.
Not nobody, not nohow
Absolutely no way, the Supreme Court basically said. (To underscore the point, the opinion was unanimous, and Justice Ginsburg wrote it.) Here's the constitutional law of peremptory challenges as it stands on this day:
- "If a defendant is tried before a qualified jury composed of individuals not challengeable for cause, the loss of a peremptory challenge due to a state court's good-faith error is not a matter of federal constitutional concern. Rather, it is a matter for the State to address under its own laws."
- "[T]his Court has consistently held that there is no freestanding constitutional right to peremptory challenges."
"Because peremptory challenges are within the States' province to grant or withhold, the mistaken denial of a state-provided peremptory challenge does not, without more, violate the Federal Constitution."
The opinion is Rivera v. Illinois. Related posts here: