from the Marion Superior Court Trial Court Cause No.
49G09-1601-F6-5 The Honorable Ronnie Huerta, Commissioner
Attorney for Appellant Suzy St. John Indianapolis, Indiana
Attorneys for Appellee Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General
of Indiana James B. Martin Deputy Attorney General
Eugene Roach appeals his conviction for Class A misdemeanor
resisting law enforcement. We remand.
Roach raises two issues, but we address one dispositive
issue, which we restate as whether the trial court properly
denied his Batson challenge.
Indiana State Police Trooper Thomas Bennett was involved in a
traffic stop in Marion County when a woman alerted him to a
nearby situation. Trooper Bennett saw Roach and a woman near
a bicycle and saw Roach hit the woman. Trooper Bennett
yelled, "[H]ey, stop, police!" Tr. p. 135. Roach
made eye contact with Trooper Bennett, got on his bicycle,
and pedaled away. A bystander intervened and blocked Roach
from leaving, and Trooper Bennett arrested Roach. The State
charged Roach with Level 6 felony criminal confinement, Class
A misdemeanor battery, and Class A misdemeanor resisting law
enforcement. The State later dismissed the criminal
confinement and battery charges.
During voir dire of Roach's jury trial on the resisting
law enforcement charge, the State asked, "What are some
duties of law enforcement officers that you can think of? Mr.
James, what are some duties of law enforcement officers that
you can think of?" Tr. p. 68. After discussing the
matter with a couple of prospective jurors, the State asked,
"Mr. Wilson, you got anything to add to that?"
Id. Prospective Juror Wilson ("Juror
Wilson") responded, "Do the right thing."
Id. Defense counsel also gave a hypothetical about
the victim of an assault walking away from a police officer.
She then asked, "How about you, Mr. Wilson? How do you
feel about it?" Id. at 81. Juror Wilson
responded, "I INAUDIBLE press charges."
Id. These were the only verbal interactions with
Juror Wilson evident on the record.
The State apparently used a peremptory challenge to strike
Juror Wilson. Defense counsel then told the trial court,
"[I]t's possible we're raising a Batson
challenge, because he was the only African American on the
panel." Id. at 97. The trial court said,
"It's a little premature still. INAUDIBLE juror
seven." Id. Defense co-counsel then said,
"I was about to say he was the only black man in the
Jury pool . . . ." Id. Defense co-counsel then
noted, "For the record, I note that Mr. Kevin Wilson,
who is juror number fourteen is the only black male in the
Jury pool. Our client is a black male." Id. at
98-99. Defense co-counsel argued that Juror Wilson's
answers during voir dire were not different than two white
males-Mr. Bercot and Mr. Coble-that were also questioned. In
response, the State said:
First, the reason that Mr. Wilson was struck was Mr.
Wilson's body language throughout the entirety of voir
dire, particularly given when Mr. Clapp was asking [a]
question. The first thing that I wrote on my Jury
questionnaire was skeptical and then I wrote disengaged. In
addition to that, which I found problematic given the way
that he was acting in the Jury box, given that combined with
the fact that when Ms. Zuran questioned him about whether or
not he would stop if a police officer asked him to stop, he
said no, I wouldn't stop. So, given the facts of this
case, I think those two things combined lead to our strikes.
Now, additionally, Ms. Frick said that she took some notes
about Mr. Wilson not saying anything different from Mr.
Bercot and from Mr. Coble. As far as I recall, Mr. Wilson
didn't say anything different from juror, Jason Costa,
who is a white male who we struck for the same reason that we
struck Mr. Wilson. Those being that he tended to agree with
the questions that defense was asking and his general
Id. at 99-100. Defense co-counsel responded:
I would note that in fact, Mr. Bercot did say that you would
have a right to walk away and that there was no need to
respond [to] an officer and again, for the record, I will
note Mr. Bercot is a white male and I'd also note, I say
this for respectively, but Mr. Seitz is not a mind reader. He
can't tell whether or not Mr. Wilson was disengaged and
skeptical. In fact, Ms. Eder, who is on the Jury said, she