A Southern District of New York magistrate judge held last week in a ruling of apparent first impression that prosecutors cannot target West Indians in exercising their peremptory challenges.

The ruling by Magistrate Judge James C. Francis IV in Watson v. Ricks, 05-7288, gives a West Indian prisoner who was sentenced to at least 25 years in prison for rape and sodomy an opportunity to prove that the prosecution improperly discriminated in the exercise of its peremptory challenges under the doctrine laid out by the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1986 ruling in Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79.

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