Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, Second Division
from the circuit court of Cook County, No. 15-JD-901; the
Hon. Steven James Bernstein, Judge, presiding.
Michael J. Pelletier, Patricia Mysza, and Rebecca Cohen, of
State Appellate Defender's Office, of Chicago, for
M. Alvarez, State's Attorney, of Chicago (Alan J.
Spellberg and Iris G. Ferosie, Assistant State's
Attorneys, of counsel), for the People.
Justices Neville and Pierce concurred in the judgment and
1 After a jury trial,  minor respondent A.S. was adjudicated
delinquent of the offense of residential burglary and
sentenced to the Juvenile Department of Corrections.
Respondent seeks a new trial based on his claim that the
State used peremptory challenges to strike prospective black
jurors without providing a race-neutral explanation as
required under Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79
(1986), and that the trial court did not fulfill its duty to
closely evaluate the State's proffered reasons for
striking these panel members. Alternatively, respondent
contends that the State's failure to provide any reason
for its peremptory challenge to one black member of the
venire and the trial court's failure to inquire into the
reason for the challenge as well as other irregularities in
the proceedings require remand for a new Batson
hearing. We agree with respondent's alternative argument
and reverse and remand for further Batson
3 We confine our discussion of the facts to a summary of the
jury selection process prior to respondent's trial. Jury
selection spanned two days. On the first day, January 6,
2016, the State challenged for cause the first black member
of the venire, Charles H. because he failed to disclose his
criminal history, including charges for unlawful use of a
weapon and attempted arson. The State also used challenges
for cause against Bill B. and Kenneth J., two white males,
for failing to disclose prior arrests during voir
dire. Bill B. failed to reveal a DUI arrest and Kenneth
J. did not disclose a battery charge from 1996.
4 Over the remainder of jury selection conducted that day,
the State proceeded to use sequential peremptory challenges
to strike three black members of the venire: Addie M.,
Madelyn B. and Connie T.
5 With respect to Connie T., a clerical worker for the
Chicago Teachers Union, the State initially proposed to
strike her for cause because she had not disclosed a theft
conviction from 1977 for which she received supervision. It
is unclear from the record whether this conviction was
expunged. At the insistence of respondent's counsel,
Connie T. was questioned in chambers. She at first did not
remember the 39-year-old charge, but eventually recalled that
in her teens she was in a store with her boyfriend who put an
item in her purse without her knowledge and she was stopped
on leaving the store. The State asked Connie T. no questions.
Upon hearing Connie T.'s explanation, the court denied
the State's challenge for cause and the State elected to
use a peremptory challenge to dismiss her.
6 Respondent's counsel then raised a Batson
challenge based on the State's conduct in striking
Charles H. for cause and using peremptories to strike the
three remaining black members of the venire. Counsel argued
that these challenges had resulted in the dismissal of every
prospective juror who was black.
7 After hearing argument, the trial court reiterated its
belief that it had properly granted the State's motion to
strike Charles H. for cause given his failure to disclose
past arrests for serious crimes. The court further determined
that respondent had not made a prima facie showing
that that State's use of three of its peremptories
against Addie M., Madelyn B., and Connie T. was racially
motivated. Referencing Connie T., the court commented that
"I think there's been some consistency in [the
State's] feeling with respect to failure to
disclose" past criminal matters.
8 Requesting to make a record, the prosecutor noted that she
had consistently stricken for cause jurors of any race who
failed to disclose prior arrests during voir dire
and that she had used a peremptory challenge against Holly
B., a white woman, in addition to the three black women.
Finally, the prosecutor noted that of the 40-person venire,
"fewer than 10" and maybe only "five or
six" were black.
9 When jury selection resumed the following day,
respondent's counsel requested a mistrial, again based on
the claimed Batson violation. Counsel noted that
A.S. was black and the complaining witness was white. The
State repeated the previous day's arguments and posited
that, in any event, respondent's motion was premature
given that jury selection had not concluded. The trial court
adhered to its finding that respondent had not made out a
prima facie case of a Batson violation,
postponed ruling on respondent's motion for a mistrial,
and resumed jury selection.
10 Joe W., a black man who indicated during questioning that
he had a number of health problems and was not feeling well,
was interviewed in chambers. Joe W. indicated that he had
diabetes and high blood pressure and expressed doubt that he
could make it through the trial. Ultimately, when asked if he
thought he could serve if the court attended to any problems
that arose by taking breaks or having juice available, Joe W.
agreed that he could.
11 Joe W. had failed to disclose a DUI arrest from 2003. When
questioned about the arrest by the trial court, he indicated
that he forgot about it. Joe W. also indicated that he really
didn't consider the DUI a "criminal" matter.
Notwithstanding the previous day's assertion that it had
challenged any prospective juror, regardless of race, who
failed to disclose prior arrests, the State asked Joe W. no
questions and accepted him as the 11th juror, as did
12 After the parties had selected 12 jurors, they proceeded
to the selection of alternate jurors. The State used a
peremptory challenge against Rita J., a black woman who had
worked for 26 years as a therapist for the Department of
Children and Family Services (DCFS). The State asked no
questions of Rita J. during voir dire prior to using
the peremptory. At that point, apparently based on the
State's use of four of its five peremptories to dismiss
black jurors, the court sua sponte found that
respondent had made a prima facie case of a
Batson violation ("now I'm saying that
there is a pattern") and proceeded to question the State
regarding the reasons for striking black members of the
13 Starting with Rita J., the State cited her work history
and argued that a DCFS social worker "may have some
tendency to be lenie[nt] against [sic] the minor
respondent." Respondent's counsel, who did not have
his jury selection notes with him in chambers, pointed out
that other members of the venire were in social service
professions and he "guessed" that the State had
accepted one or more of them. Based on the State's
explanation, the court found the State's reason for
exercising a peremptory against Rita J. was based on factors
other than her race.
14 The parties next addressed the dismissal of Addie M.
During voir dire questioning, Addie M. had disclosed that 12
years earlier her home had been surrounded on one occasion by
police who were there to arrest her son on a robbery warrant.
Addie M.'s son was later convicted and served prison
time. The prosecutor stated that, as a result of that
incident, the State believed Addie M. "might have some
feelings about the police that would be adverse to [the]
prosecution." Respondent's counsel pointed out that
another juror, Shelly L., a white woman, also had a son
involved in a criminal matter where police came to her home
looking for him, an argument ensued, and she later determined
he was involved. The prosecutor asserted that the
circumstances described by Addie M. were materially different
as there was no indication that police had surrounded Shelly
L.'s home or that her son had been convicted or served
time on any criminal charge. Based on this explanation, the
trial court concluded that the State had offered a
race-neutral reason for Addie M.'s dismissal.
15 With respect to Madelyn B., she revealed on voir
dire that she worked for Breakthrough Urban Ministries,
an organization that serves a homeless population on the west
side of Chicago. In articulating the reason for dismissing
her, the State indicated, "the fact that she's a
social worker from East Garfield Park would have been reason
enough for us to think that" she would be adverse to the
prosecution. Madelyn B. had further revealed during voir
dire that she had been convicted of attempted robbery in
the early 1960s and criminal trespass in the 1970s, although
the State was not in possession of a criminal history
indicating that she had any criminal convictions. Madelyn B.
also used the phrase "substance abuse" in
referencing her trespass conviction, but she did not
16 During the in-chambers discussion regarding Madelyn B.,
respondent's counsel questioned the State's
consistency in striking potential jurors with criminal
backgrounds, citing the State's acceptance of Matthew H.,
a white juror who had been convicted of inciting a riot at
Michigan State University. The conviction was later expunged.
The State characterized the comparison as "laughable,
" and without further explanation from the State, the
court engaged in its own comparison of Madelyn B. and Matthew
"THE COURT: Time out. Something happened at Michigan
State where he was arrested for mob action. Again you're