Emily Rose Margolis,
Color as a Batson Class in California,
106 Calif. L. Rev. 2067
Batson v. Kentucky prohibits race-based discrimination in the exercise of peremptory challenges during jury selection in criminal and civil jury trials. In People v. Bridgeforth, New York’s highest court recently expanded this well-established protection to include discrimination based on skin color. Courts throughout the nation should adopt the same holding, despite potential administrability concerns. In California, courts should recognize skin color as a cognizable Batson class based on language in the state’s Code of Civil Procedure and its Government Code, which distinguish between race and skin color as separate identifiers. This shift will become increasingly necessary as California, along with the rest of the nation, becomes more multi-racial and multi-ethnic. Moreover, compelling research demonstrates that “colorism” is a troubling phenomenon that courts must address. This Note describes the history of Batson v. Kentucky, explains the holding and concerns raised by People v. Bridgeforth, argues that other states should recognize “skin color” as a cognizable class, and proposes two methods to do so in California.