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Stevens v. Epps, No. 09-70009

By FindLaw Staff on September 08, 2010 4:01 PM

In Stevens v. Epps, No. 09-70009, a capital habeas matter, the court affirmed the denial of petitioner's habeas petition, holding that, because the trial court allowed a juror to be struck after having rejected the prosecutor's assertion that she did not complete her juror questionnaire, it was not unreasonable for the Mississippi Supreme Court to conclude that the trial court implicitly credited the prosecutor's assertion that he struck the juror because she was inattentive, and thus, that court properly rejected petitioner's Batson claim.

As the court wrote:  "Benny Joe Stevens was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death for the 1998 murders of four people in Mississippi. The district court granted a certificate of appealability ("COA") for Stevens's claim that the prosecutor peremptorily struck a black prospective juror because of her race. Stevens has requested an expansion of the COA for his claim that the state post-conviction process was so ineffective that it violated his right to due process. We AFFIRM the district court's denial of habeas relief and DENY Stevens's request to expand the COA."

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