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Supreme Court of the United States
November 7, 2022, Decided
[*224] Petition for writ of certiorari to the Court of Appeals of Arizona, Division One denied.
Justice Kavanaugh would grant the petition for a writ of certiorari.
Dissent by: GORSUCH
Justice Gorsuch, dissenting from the denial of certiorari.
[*225] The State of Arizona convicted Ramin Khorrami of serious crimes before an 8-member jury. On appeal, Mr. Khorrami sought a new trial, arguing that the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments of the U. S. Constitution guarantee individuals like him a trial before 12 members of the community. The Arizona Supreme Court rejected the appeal, explaining that it considered itself bound by Williams v. Florida, 399 U. S. 78, 90 S. Ct. 1893, 26 L. Ed. 2d 446 (1970). There, for the first time and in defiance of centuries of precedent, this Court held that a 12-member panel “is not a necessary ingredient” of the Sixth Amendment right to trial by jury. Id., at 86, 90 S. Ct. 1893, 26 L. Ed. 2d 446. In his petition for certiorari, Mr. Khorrami asks us to reconsider Williams. Regrettably, the Court today declines to take up that task. Williams was wrong the day it was decided, it remains wrong today, and it impairs both the integrity of the American criminal justice system and the liberties of those who come before our Nation’s courts.
Presently, the laws in 44 States [**2] entitle individuals charged with serious crimes to a trial before a 12-member jury. Only 6 States, Arizona included, tolerate smaller panels—and it is difficult to reconcile their outlying practices with the Constitution. The Sixth Amendment protects the “right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury.” And a mountain of evidence suggests that, both at the time of the Amendment’s adoption and for most of our Nation’s history, the right to a trial by jury for serious criminal offenses meant a trial before 12 members of the community—nothing less.
Start with this. We often say that “[t]he interpretation of the Constitution of the United States is necessarily influenced by the fact that its provisions are framed in the language of the English common law, and are to be read in the light of its history.” Smith v. Alabama, 124 U. S. 465, 478, 8 S. Ct. 564, 31 L. Ed. 508 (1888). And while scholars may debate the precise moment when the common-law jury came to be fixed at 12 members, this much is certain: By the time of the Sixth Amendment’s adoption, the 12-person criminal jury was “an institution with a nearly four-hundred-year-old tradition in England.” R. Miller, Comment, Six of One Is Not a Dozen of the Other: A Reexamination of Williams v. Florida and the Size of State Criminal Juries, [**3] 146 U. Pa. L. Rev. 621, 643 (1998) (Miller). In 1769, Blackstone stated the rule succinctly: No person could be found guilty of a serious crime unless “the truth of every accusation [was] confirmed by the unanimous suffrage of twelve of his equals and neighbours.” 4 Commentaries on the Laws of England 343. In the 1790s, James Wilson, both a framer of the Constitution and a Justice of this Court, explained the common-law rule this way: “[T]he unanimous sentiment of the twelve jurors is of indispensable necessity” to “the conviction of a crime.” Of Juries, in 2 Collected Works of James Wilson 985 (K. Hall & M. Hall eds. 2007).
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214 L. Ed. 2d 224 *; 2022 U.S. LEXIS 4894 **; 91 U.S.L.W. 3103; 29 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. S 643; __ S.Ct. __; 2022 WL 16726030
Ramin Khorrami, Petitioner v. Arizona.
Notice: The pagination of this document is subject to change pending release of the final published version.
Prior History: [**1] ON PETITION FOR WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE COURT OF APPEALS OF ARIZONA, DIVISION ONE
State v. Khorrami, 2021 Ariz. App. Unpub. LEXIS 773, 2021 WL 3197499 (Ariz. Ct. App., July 29, 2021)
juries, right to trial, common law, smaller, courts, trial by jury, jurors, cases