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CRS Annotated Constitution

Fourteenth Amendment -- Table of ContentsPrev | Next
FOURTEENTH AMENDMENT
SECTION 1. RIGHTS GUARANTEED
EQUAL PROTECTION AND RACE

Juries

It has been established since Strauder v. West Virginia74 that exclusion of an identifiable racial or ethnic group from a grand[p.1855]jury75 which indicts a defendant or a petit jury76 which tries him, or from both,77 denies a defendant of the excluded race equal protection and necessitates reversal of his conviction or dismissal of his indictment.78 Even if the defendant’s race differs from that of the excluded jurors, the Court has recently held, the defendant has third party standing to assert the rights of jurors excluded on the basis of race.79 “Defendants in criminal proceedings do not have the only cognizable legal interest in nondiscriminatory jury selection. People excluded from juries because of their race are as much aggrieved as those indicted and tried by juries chosen under a system of racial exclusion.”80 Thus, persons may bring actions seeking affirmative relief to outlaw discrimination in jury selection, instead of depending on defendants to raise the issue.81

A prima facie case of deliberate and systematic exclusion is made when it is shown that no African Americans have served on juries for a period of years82 or when it is shown that the number of African Americans who served was grossly disproportionate to the percentage of African Americans in the population and eligible[p.1856]for jury service.83 Once this prima facie showing has been made, the burden is upon the jurisdiction to prove that discrimination was not practiced; it is not adequate that jury selection officials testify under oath that they did not discriminate.84 Although the Court in connection with a showing of great disparities in the racial makeup of jurors called has voided certain practices which made discrimination easy to accomplish,85 it has not outlawed discretionary selection pursuant to general standards of educational attainment and character which can be administered fairly.86 Similarly, it declined to rule that African Americans must be included on all–white jury commissions which administer the jury selection laws in some States.87

In Swain v. Alabama,88 African Americans regularly appeared on jury venires but no African American had actually served on a jury. It appeared that the absence was attributable to the action of the prosecutor in peremptorily challenging all potential African American jurors, but the Court refused to set aside the conviction. The use of peremptory challenges to exclude the African Americans in the particular case was permissible, the Court held, regardless of the prosecutor’s motive, although it was indicated the consistent use of such challenges to remove African Americans would be unconstitutional. Because the record did not disclose that the prosecution was responsible solely for the fact that no African American had ever served on a jury and that some exclusions were not the result of defense peremptory challenges, defendant’s claims were rejected.

The Swain holding as to the evidentiary standard was overruled in Batson v. Kentucky, the Court ruling that “a defendant may establish a prima facie case of purposeful [racial] discrimination in selection of the petit jury solely on evidence concerning the prosecutor’s exercise of peremptory challenges at the defendant’s [own] trial.” To rebut this showing, the prosecutor “must articulate[p.1857]a neutral explanation related to the particular case,” but the explanation “need not rise to the level justifying exercise of a challenge for cause.”89 The Court has also extended Batson to apply to racially discriminatory use of peremptory challenges by private litigants in civil litigation,90 and by a defendant in a criminal case,91 the principal issue in these cases being the presence of state action, not the invalidity of purposeful racial discrimination.

Discrimination in the selection of grand jury foremen presents a closer question, answer to which depends in part on the responsibilities of a foreman in the particular system challenged. Thus the Court had “assumed without deciding” that discrimination in selection of foremen for state grand juries would violate equal protection in a system in which the judge selected a foreman to serve as a thirteenth voting juror, and that foreman exercised significant powers.92 That situation was distinguished, however, in a due process challenge to the federal system, where the foreman’s responsibilities are “essentially clerical” and where the selection is from among the members of an already–chosen jury.93


Footnotes

74 100 U.S. 303 (1880) . Cf. Virginia v. Rives, 100 U.S. 313 (1880) . Discrimination on the basis of race, color, or previous condition of servitude in jury selection has also been statutorily illegal since enactment of Sec. 4 of the Civil Rights Act of 1875, 18 Stat. 335 , 18 U.S.C. Sec. 243 . See Ex parte Virginia, 100 U.S. 339 (1880) . In Hernandez v. Texas, 347 U.S. 475 (1954) , the Court found jury discrimination against Mexican–Americans to be a denial of equal protection, a ruling it reiterated in Castaneda v. Partida, 430 U.S. 482 (1977) , finding proof of discrimination by statistical disparities, even though Mexican–surnamed individuals constituted a governing majority of the county and a majority of the selecting officials were Mexican– American.
75 Bush v. Kentucky, 107 U.S. 110 (1883) ; Carter v. Texas, 177 U.S. 442 (1900) ; Rogers v. Alabama, 192 U.S. 226 (1904) ; Pierre v. Louisiana, 306 U.S. 354 (1939) ; Smith v. Texas, 311 U.S. 128 (1940) ; Hill v. Texas, 316 U.S. 400 (1942) ; Cassell v. Texas, 339 U.S. 282 (1950) ; Reece v. Georgia, 350 U.S. 85 (1955) ; Eubanks v. Louisiana, 356 U.S. 584 (1958) ; Arnold v. North Carolina, 376 U.S. 773 (1964) ; Alexander v. Louisiana, 405 U.S. 625 (1972) .
76 Hollins v. Oklahoma, 295 U.S. 394 (1935) ; Avery v. Georgia, 345 U.S. 559 (1953) .
77 Neal v. Delaware, 103 U.S. 370 (1881) ; Martin v. Texas, 200 U.S. 316 (1906) ; Norris v. Alabama, 294 U.S. 587 (1935) ; Hale v. Kentucky, 303 U.S. 613 (1938) ; Patton v. Mississippi, 332 U.S. 463 (1947) ; Coleman v. Alabama, 377 U.S. 129 (1964) ; Whitus v. Georgia, 385 U.S. 545 (1967) ; Jones v. Georgia, 389 U.S. 24 (1967) ; Sims v. Georgia, 385 U.S. 538 (1967) .
78 Even if there is no discrimination in the selection of the petit jury which convicted him, a defendant who shows discrimination in the selection of the grand jury which indicted him is entitled to a reversal of his conviction. Cassell v. Texas, 339 U.S. 282 (1950) ; Alexander v. Louisiana, 405 U.S. 625 (1972) ; Vasquez v. Hillery, 474 U.S. 254 (1986) (habeas corpus remedy).
79 Powers v. Ohio, 111 Ct. 1364, 1373 (1991). See also Peters v. Kiff, 407 U.S. 493 (1972) (defendant entitled to have his conviction or indictment set aside if he proves such exclusion). The Court in 1972 was substantially divided with respect to the reason for rejecting the “same class” rule—that the defendant be of the excluded class—but in Taylor v. Louisiana, 419 U.S. 522 (1975) , involving a male defendant and exclusion of women, the Court ascribed the result to the fair–cross–section requirement of the Sixth Amendment, which would have application across–the—board.

Supplement: [P. 1855, add to n.79 after citation to Powers v. Ohio:]

Campbell v. Louisiana, 523 U.S. 392 (1998) (grand jury).

80 Carter v. Jury Comm’n of Greene County, 396 U.S. 320, 329 (1970) .
81 Id.; Turner v. Fouche, 396 U.S. 346 (1970) .
82 Norris v. Alabama, 294 U.S. 587 (1935) ; Patton v. Mississippi, 332 U.S. 463 (1947) ; Hill v. Texas, 316 U.S. 400 (1942) .
83 Pierre v. Louisiana, 306 U.S. 354 (1939) ; Cassell v. Texas, 339 U.S. 282 (1950) ; Eubanks v. Louisiana, 356 U.S. 584 (1958) ; Whitus v. Georgia, 385 U.S. 545 (1967) ; Alexander v. Louisiana, 405 U.S. 625 (1972) . For an elaborate discussion of statistical proof, see Castaneda v. Partida, 430 U.S. 482 (1977) .
84 Norris v. Alabama, 294 U.S. 587 (1935) ; Eubanks v. Georgia, 385 U.S. 545 (1967) ; Sims v. Georgia, 389 U.S. 404 (1967) ; Turner v. Fouche, 396 U.S. 346, 360–361 (1970) .
85 Avery v. Georgia, 345 U.S. 559 (1953) (names of whites and African Americans listed on differently colored paper for drawing for jury duty); Whitus v. Georgia, 385 U.S. 545 (1967) (jurors selected from county tax books, in which names of African Americans were marked with a “c”).
86 Carter v. Jury Comm’n of Greene County, 396 U.S. 320, 331–37 (1970) , and cases cited.
87 Id. at 340–41.
88 380 U.S. 202 (1965) .
89 476 U.S. 79, 96, 98 (1986) . The principles were applied in Trevino v. Texas, 112 Ct. 1547 (1991), holding that a criminal defendant’s allegation of a state’s pattern of historical and habitual use of peremptory challenges to exclude members of racial minorities was sufficient to raise an equal protection claim under Swain as well as Batson. In Hernandez v. New York, 500 U.S. 352 (1991) , a prosecutor was held to have sustained his burden of providing a race–neutral explanation for using peremptory challenges to strike bilingual Latino jurors; the prosecutor had explained that, based on the answers and demeanor of the prospective jurors, he had doubted whether they would accept the interpreter’s official translation of trial testimony by Spanish–speaking witnesses. The Batson ruling applies to cases pending on direct review or not yet final when Batson was decided, Griffith v. Kentucky, 479 U.S. 314 (1987) , but does not apply to a case on federal habeas corpus review, Allen v. Hardy, 478 U.S. 255 (1986) .
90 Edmonson v. Leesville Concrete Co., 111 Ct. 2077 (1991).
91 Georgia v. McCollum, 112 Ct. 2348 (1992).
92 Rose v. Mitchell, 443 U.S. 545, 551 n.4 (1979) .
93 Hobby v. United States, 468 U.S. 339 (1984) . Note also that in this limited context where injury to the defendant was largely conjectural, the Court seemingly revived the same class rule, holding that a white defendant challenging on due process grounds exclusion of blacks as grand jury foremen could not rely on equal protection principles protecting blacks defendants from “the injuries of stigmatization and prejudice” associated with discrimination. Id. at 347.
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