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State v. Archuleta

Court of Appeals of Arizona, First Division, Division One

November 19, 2013

STATE OF ARIZONA, Appellee,
v.
RICHARD JOHN ARCHULETA, Appellant.

Not for Publication See Ariz. R. Sup. Ct. 111(c); Ariz. R. Crim. P. 31.24

Appeal from the Superior Court in Maricopa County No. CR2011-149959-001 The Honorable William L. Brotherton, Judge

Attorney General's Office, Phoenix By Joseph T. Maziarz, Terry M. Crist Counsel for Appellees

Maricopa County Public Defender's Office, Phoenix By Cory Engle Counsel for Appellant

Judge Randall M. Howe, presiding, delivered the decision of the Court, in which Judge Samuel A. Thumma and Judge Patricia A. Orozco joined.

MEMORANDUM DECISION

HOWE, Presiding Judge:

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

¶1 Richard John Archuleta appeals his conviction and sentence for misconduct involving weapons, arguing the court erred in upholding the State's peremptory strikes against his Batson[1]challenge. For the following reasons, we affirm.

¶2 At the beginning of jury selection, the venire was comprised of forty-five individuals, three of whom were Hispanic and expressed concerns about speaking English fluently: Jurors 23, 27, and 44. During voir dire, Juror 23 stated that she had worked as a unit controller for thirty-two years, her husband was a manager for a transportation company, she had one adult child, and that she had not served on a jury before. Juror 27 stated that she had worked as a janitor for ten years and expressed difficulty speaking English, explaining that she spoke "[m]ostly Spanish" at work. Juror 44 expressed difficulty understanding English, stated that her husband had multiple DUI arrests, and was non-responsive to questions about a seven hundred dollar fine her husband owed.

¶3 The court excused Juror 44 for cause. And when the state later exercised peremptory strikes to remove Jurors 23 and 27, Archuleta made a Batson challenge, claiming the strikes were racially motivated. The trial court then asked for race-neutral reasons for the strikes. The prosecutor explained that she struck Juror 23 "because of her lack of information given to the court" and struck Juror 27 because she "raised concerns for own ability to [understand English] . . . and speaks mostly Spanish at work."

¶4 The court ruled that Archuleta had not shown by a preponderance of the evidence that the strikes were racially based or purposefully discriminatory. Regarding Juror 23, the court found that the prosecutor's explanation satisfied Batson because the judge had taken no notes on Juror 23 and did not otherwise know anything about her. The court also found that striking Juror 27 for her inability to understand English satisfied Batson, and noted that it had even considered striking her for cause.

¶5 The trial proceeded and the jury convicted Archuleta of misconduct involving weapons. Finding that Archuleta had three prior felony convictions, the trial court sentenced him to the presumptive term of ten years' imprisonment.

DISCUSSION

¶6 Archuleta argues that the prosecutor violated Batson when exercising peremptory strikes against two Hispanic members of the venire. He claims that the prosecutor's reason for striking Jury 23 —that she had disclosed little personal information—was pretextual because he did not strike non-Hispanic members that provided identical or similar information. Archuleta also claims that the prosecutor's motive for removing Juror 27—that she had difficulty understanding English—was pretextual because the trial court did not strike Juror 27 for cause. On an appeal of a Batson ruling, we review the trial court's application of the law de novo, but ...


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