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Case Basics
Docket No. 
Jay Shawn Johnson
(argued the cause for Petitioner)
(argued the cause for Respondent)
Facts of the Case 

Jay Shawn Johnson, on trial in California for murder, objected to the district attorney's use of peremptory challenges to eliminate all three black prospective jurors. Johnson argued the eliminations were based on race. The judge denied Johnson's motions and held that Johnson had failed to show a "strong likelihood" that the dismissals were race-based. The judge relied on People v. Wheeler, the 1978 case in which the California Supreme Court ruled that to establish a prima facie case of racial bias in peremptory challenges, the objector had to show "strong likelihood" that the challenges were race- based. The jury found Johnson guilty of second-degree murder.

Johnson appealed and argued that the "strong likelihood" standard in Wheeler was at odds with the 'reasonable inference" standard the U.S. Supreme Court set in Batson v. Kentucky (1986). The appeals court agreed and reversed Johnson's conviction. The California Supreme Court reversed and ruled that the two standards were the same.


In order to establish a prima facie case under Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79 (1986), must the objector show that it is more likely than not that the other party's peremptory challenges were based on impermissible group bias?

Decision: 9 votes for California, 0 vote(s) against
Legal provision: 28 U.S.C. 1257

In a per curiam opinion, the Court ruled it lacked jurisdiction and dismissed the case.

Cite this Page
JOHNSON v. CALIFORNIA. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 26 August 2015. <>.
JOHNSON v. CALIFORNIA, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, (last visited August 26, 2015).
"JOHNSON v. CALIFORNIA," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed August 26, 2015,