Batson Challenge Law and Legal Definition

Batson Challenge refers to an objection to the validity of a peremptory challenge, on grounds that the other party used it to exclude a potential juror based on race, ethnicity, or sex. A peremptory challenge is the right of the plaintiff and the defendant in a jury trial to have a juror dismissed before trial without stating a reason.

The name comes from the Supreme Court case Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79, 89 (U.S. 1986), wherein United States Supreme Court held that the equal protection clause of the Federal Constitution's Fourteenth Amendment would be violated by a prosecutor's purposefully discriminatory exercise of peremptory challenges to remove from a jury venire members of the defendant's own race.

In Batson’s the prosecution struck potential jurors on the basis of race and a jury composed only of Caucasians was selected. On petitioner's objection, the trial judge observed that the parties were entitled to use peremptory challenges to strike anyone for any reason. On appeal, petitioner contended the facts established that the prosecution had engaged in a systematic pattern of discriminatory challenges, thus establishing an equal protection violation. The state supreme court affirmed the conviction. However on appeal the Supreme Court reversed and remanded the case to the trial court, holding that if the trial court decided that the facts established prima facie, purposeful discrimination and that the prosecution did not proffer a neutral explanation for its actions, petitioner's conviction had be reversed.

Even though Batson challenges were originally applied to racial discrimination in jury selection they are now applied whenever gender or ethnic background is an issue. The principle of Batson was extended in later Supreme Court cases to civil litigants also. [Edmonson v. Leesville Concrete Co., 500 U.S. 614 (U.S. 1991)

This is also referred to as Baston Objection.