Oral argument: Jan. 20, 2010
Appealed from: United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit (Sep. 24, 2008)
SIXTH AMENDMENT, HABEAS CORPUS, IMPARTIAL JURY
In 1993, an all-white jury convicted Diapolis Smith of second-degree murder and possession of a firearm during a felony. A 1990 Census showed that African-Americans comprised 7.8% of eligible jurors in the relevant county and 18.1% of eligible jurors in the relevant city. Smith challenged the county's system of jury selection, arguing it violated his Sixth Amendment right to a jury drawn from a fair-cross-section of the community. The Sixth Circuit ruled in his favor, rejecting Petitioner Mary Berghuis’ proposed “absolute-disparity test,” which subtracts the percentage of adult members of a distinct group in the venire from the percentage of eligible jurors of that distinct group in the population. It instead applied the “comparative-disparity test,” which divides the absolute-disparity by the percentage of the distinct group in the community. The Supreme Court’s decision may impact the composition of juries.