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MILLER-EL v. DRETKE, DIRECTOR, TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE, CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTIONS DIVISION, 545 U.S. ---

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MILLER-EL v. DRETKE, DIRECTOR, TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE, CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTIONS DIVISION

CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FIFTH CIRCUIT

No. 03-9659.Argued December 6, 2004--Decided June 13, 2005

When Dallas County prosecutors used peremptory strikes against 10 of the 11 qualified black venire members during jury selection for petitioner Miller-El's capital murder trial, he objected, claiming that the strikes were based on race and could not be presumed legitimate since the District Attorney's Office had a history of excluding blacks from criminal juries. The trial court denied his request for a new jury, and his trial ended with a death sentence. While his appeal was pending, this Court decided, in Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U. S. 79, that discrimination by a prosecutor in selecting a defendant's jury violated the Fourteenth Amendment. On remand, the trial court reviewed the voir dire record, heard prosecutor Macaluso's justifications for the strikes that were not explained during voir dire, and found no showing that prospective black jurors were struck because of their race. The State Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed. Subsequently, the Federal District Court denied Miller-El federal habeas relief, and the Fifth Circuit denied a certificate of appealability. This Court reversed, finding that the merits of Miller-El's Batson claim were, at least, debatable by jurists of reason. Miller-El v. Cockrell, 537 U. S. 322. The Fifth Circuit granted a certificate of appealability but rejected Miller-El's Batson claim on the merits.

Held: Miller-El is entitled to prevail on his Batson claim and, thus, entitled to habeas relief. Pp. 3-33.


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