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RECENT RELEASES - FLORIDA SUPREME COURT

CRIMINAL LAW--JURORS--PEREMPTORY CHALLENGE--RACE-NEUTRAL EXPLANATION. The Supreme Court held that the trial court properly denied a defendant's peremptory challenge of an African American juror, finding the defendant's proffered reason for the strike--that the juror was predisposed to the death penalty--to be a pretext. Disagreeing with the dissent's assessment that the record was devoid of any indication that the trial court conducted a genuineness inquiry as required under Melbourne v. State, 679 So. 2d 759 (Fla. 1996), the majority found that there were "no magic words that must be uttered by the trial judge in order to fulfill the Melbourne requirements" and that it was clear that the trial court did not believe the defendant's proffered race-neutral reason was genuine, in part because the defendant had failed to raise the allegation of the juror's predisposition to death in the same manner that he had raised that allegation with respect to non-black prospective jurors.
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