IN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE SIXTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT
OF THE STATE OF FLORIDA IN AND FOR PINELLAS COUNTY

CHRISTOPHER M. PERRIN

           Appellant,

v.                                          Appeal No. CRC 00-5221 CFANO

STATE OF FLORIDA

          Appellee.

__________________________/

Opinion filed ________________.

Appeal from a judgment and sentence

entered by the Pinellas County Court

County Judge Robert Morris, Jr.

Dale Workman, Esq.

Assistant Public Defender

Jennifer Schick, Esq.

Assistant State Attorney

ORDER AND OPINION

      THIS MATTER is before the Court on Christopher Perrin’s appeal from a judgment and sentence entered by the Pinellas County Court following a jury trial. After reviewing the briefs and record, this Court affirms the judgment and sentence.

       The defendant alleges that the trial court erred in allowing the State to strike a black venireperson without providing a genuine, race-neutral reason. Initially, the Court notes that the issue was not preserved for appeal. There is no indication that the defendant renewed his objection prior to the time the jury was sworn. See Johnson v. State, 763 So.2d 1214 (Fla. 2d DCA 2000); Milstein v. Mutual Sec. Life Ins. Co., 705 So.2d 639 (Fla. 3d DCA 1998).

        Even if the issue had been preserved for review, this Court would still affirm the judgment and sentence because the trial court did not clearly commit error. The procedure to be followed was set forth in Melbourne v. State, 679 So.2d 759 (Fla. 1996). A party objecting to a peremptory challenge on racial grounds must voice an objection, show that the person is a member of a distinct racial group, and ask that the striking party provide a race-neutral reason for the strike. The burden then shifts to the striking party to provide a race-neutral explanation. The record reflects that this was accomplished in the instant case. At issue is the State’s explanation. The State claimed that it exercised its peremptory challenge because it believed that the venire person misunderstood the law as it related to battery and self-defense. The trial court accepted the explanation. As noted in Melbourne, “the focus of the trial court’s inquiry is not on the reasonableness of the explanation but rather its genuineness.” Id. at 764. Furthermore, “the trial court’s decision turns primarily on an assessment of credibility and will be affirmed on appeal unless clearly erroneous.” Id. at 764-765. Given that standard of review, this Court finds that the trial court’s decision was not clearly erroneous.

      As for the defendant’s argument that the reason given was pretextual as evidenced by the State’s acceptance of a white juror who arguably gave similar answers to questions, the record reflects that the defendant did not timely raise the issue during trial. He waited until his motion for new trial before he raised the issue. Thus, the alleged error was not preserved.

         IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that the judgment and sentence are affirmed.

         DONE AND ORDERED in Chambers at St.Petersburg, Pinellas County, Florida this _____ day of January, 2001.

 

_____________________________
David A. Demers

Circuit Judge, Appellate Division

 

cc:   State Attorney

         Public Defender

         Judge Morris