The opinion of the court was delivered by: Graves, J.A.D.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted May 5, 2010 - Decided Before Judges Stern and Graves.
On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Atlantic County, Docket No. L-4897-06.
Michael Carter, appellant pro se.
Gibbons P.C., attorneys for respondents (Madeline M. Sherry, of the Pennsylvania bar, admitted pro hac vice, and Carla N. Dorsi, of counsel; Ms. Dorsi, Ms. Sherry, and Megan Frese Porio, on the brief).
The opinion of the court was delivered by
Plaintiff Michael Carter, who describes himself as "a married black man," brought this action against his former employer, defendant Laboratory Corporation of America Holdings (LabCorp). Plaintiff alleged in his complaint that he was subjected to sexual harassment by a female co-worker and that his employment was terminated as the result of gender discrimination in violation of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination, N.J.S.A. 10:5-1 to -42.
Plaintiff appeals from a jury verdict in favor of defendant. He contends the use of peremptory challenges by defense counsel to excuse three qualified African American female jurors violated his constitutional right to a fair and impartial jury. We reverse and remand to afford defense counsel an opportunity to explain the reasons for excluding the potential jurors and for further findings by the trial court.
During jury selection, defendant exercised peremptory challenges to exclude four jurors, all of them female. LabCorp agrees that two of the females were African Americans. However, during a sidebar conference----initiated by the court----the trial judge suggested that defendant had excused three African American jurors:
THE COURT: Can I see everyone at sidebar one moment?
THE COURT: Okay. You used four.
THE COURT: Or was it two or three that were on that African American juror? I want to know. Which ...