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Abstract

Research shows the mere presence of Blacks on capital juries-- on the rare occasions they are seated--can mean the difference between life and death. Peremptory challenges are the primary method to remove these pivotal participants. Batson v. Kentucky developed hearings as an immediate remedy for the unconstitutional removal of jurors through racially motivated peremptory challenges. These proceedings have become rituals that sanction continued bias in the jury selection process and ultimately affect the outcome of capital trials. This Article deconstructs the role of the Batson ritual in legitimating the removal of African American jurors. These perfunctory hearings fail to meaningfully interrogate the reasons prosecutors offer as race neutral motivations for peremptorily striking Black jurors.