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State v. Buchanan

Court of Appeals of Iowa

November 21, 2018

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
LUNDELL EARLEST BUCHANAN, Defendant-Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Linn County, Casey D. Jones, District Associate Judge.

         Lundell Buchanan appeals multiple criminal convictions following a jury trial.

          Chad R. Frese of Kaplan & Frese, LLP, Marshalltown, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Tyler J. Buller, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

          Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Doyle and Mullins, JJ.

          MULLINS, JUDGE.

         Lundell Buchanan appeals multiple criminal convictions following a jury trial. He contends the racial composition of the jury pool violated his constitutional right to a jury drawn from a fair cross-section of the community.[1] Our review is de novo. See State v. Plain, 898 N.W.2d 801, 810, 821 (Iowa 2017).

         Before the impaneling of the jury the morning of trial, defense counsel stated the following to the court:

[W]e'd like to strike the entire jury panel as not reflective as . . . a fair cross section of the community. We would note that not only are the initial 25 potential or prospective jurors Caucasian, but all of the remaining jury pool are Caucasian as indicated on their jury questionnaires. We don't believe this is a true reflection of the community. Lundell Buchanan, being an African-American male, is not willing to stand trial before this panel as it is not reflective as a true cross section of the community.

         The State resisted, asserting Buchanan presented no evidence of systematic exclusion of potential jurors on the basis of race. See id. at 823-24 (discussing the third element for establishing a violation of the fair cross-section requirement defined in Duren v. Missouri, 439 U.S. 357, 364 (1979)). Defense counsel responded he would "like an opportunity to look into . . . some kind of systematic exclusion" and requested the court to recess the trial so he could get "discovery on the method of how these prospective jurors were selected for this panel." The court denied Buchanan's motion to strike the jury panel, citing Buchanan's failure to provide evidence to establish a prima facie case of systematic exclusion and noting "it is clear that Linn County is vastly Caucasian."

         On appeal, Buchanan argues defense counsel's "request to recess to investigate this matter further and possibly present evidence on this violation was not only reasonable, but constitutionally necessary."

         Recently, in Plain, an African-American defendant objected to the racial composition of his jury pool where African Americans represented 8.9% of the population of the county in which the trial was held, but "the pool of potential jurors included only one African-American man among fifty-six potential petit jurors-or 1.8% of the group." Id. at 810. When a defendant lodges a fair cross-section objection, the defendant has the burden to establish a prima facie case by showing:

(1) that the group alleged to be excluded is a "distinctive" group in the community; (2) that the representation of this group in venires from which juries are selected is not fair and reasonable in relation to the number of such persons in the community; and (3) that this underrepresentation is due to systematic exclusion of the group in the jury-selection process.

Id. at 821-22 (quoting Duren, 439 U.S. at 364). Plain was unable to present any evidence of systematic exclusion in conjunction with his objection, thus negating the establishment of a prima facie case of a violation of the fair cross-section requirement. Id. at 810. On appeal, the State argued the failure to present evidence was dispositive, while Plain argued his failure to present evidence was because the jury manager did not provide him ...


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