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State v. Adams

Supreme Court of Minnesota

November 6, 2019

STATE of Minnesota, Respondent,
v.
Chance Dechristian ADAMS, Appellant.

          Syllabus by the Court

          The district court did not clearly err in concluding that the State’s asserted reason for striking an African-American prospective juror was not a pretext for purposeful discrimination.

Page 327

          Hennepin County

         Keith Ellison, Attorney General, Saint Paul, Minnesota; and Michael O. Freeman, Hennepin County Attorney, Mark V. Griffin, Senior Assistant County Attorney, Minneapolis, Minnesota, for respondent.

         Cathryn Middlebrook, Chief Appellate Public Defender, Jenna Yauch-Erickson, Assistant Public Defender, Saint Paul, Minnesota, for appellant.

          OPINION

         LILLEHAUG, Justice.

         Chance Adams was convicted of first-degree felony murder, first-degree aggravated robbery, and possession of a firearm by an ineligible person related to a fatal shooting. On direct appeal, Adams asserts that the district court clearly erred by overruling his Batson objection to the State’s peremptory challenge of a prospective juror— an African-American woman. We affirm the district court.

          FACTS

         The facts of this case are not in dispute. The only issue raised in this appeal is the district court’s decision to overrule Adams’ Batson objection to the State’s peremptory challenge of a prospective juror (Juror 9).

          On June 17, 2017, in Webber Park in north Minneapolis, Adams approached two teenagers from behind, pulled out a gun, and told them, "[g]ive me everything you got." After taking one teenager’s wallet and both of their cell phones, Adams told them to lie on the ground. They both did

Page 328

so— face down. After going through their pockets, Adams fired two shots that struck one of the teenagers in the back and killed him. At his jury trial, Adams testified to support an intoxication defense. He was convicted of first-degree felony murder, first-degree aggravated robbery, and possession of a firearm by an ineligible person.

          For jury selection, the court used a written jury questionnaire and individual oral voir dire. Juror 9 was the first African-American prospective juror questioned. In the jury questionnaire, Juror 9 was asked about her criminal history, her family’s criminal history, and contacts with police officers. The jury questionnaire instructed her to check separate boxes for whether she, her spouse, her family, or a friend had "Been charged with or accused of a crime (other than a traffic offense)." She checked only the box for her family. She was also asked if anyone had "Been arrested or placed under investigation for a crime." She did not check any boxes. She was asked if anyone had "Been convicted of a crime (other than a traffic offense)." She checked only the box for her family. Each of the questions asked for an explanation: ...


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