Thank You For Submiting Feedback!
Discrimination on the basis of race in the selection of grand jurors strikes at the fundamental values of the judicial system and society as a whole, and the criminal defendant's right to equal protection of the laws has been denied when he is indicted by a grand jury from which members of a racial group purposefully have been excluded.
In a murder prosecution in the Superior Court of Kings County, California, the accused, a black, unsuccessfully moved to quash the indictment on the ground that blacks had been systematically excluded from the grand jury which indicted him. The accused was convicted of first-degree murder, and for the next 16 years, he unsuccessfully pursued appeals and collateral relief in the state courts, raising at every opportunity his equal protection challenge to the grand jury which indicted him. Less than a month after the California Supreme Court foreclosed his final avenue of state relief, he sought habeas corpus relief in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California. The District Court, granting a writ of habeas corpus, held that the accused had established discriminatory exclusion of blacks from the grand jury. The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed.
Did the respondent establish discrimination in the grand jury selection, thereby warranting the grant of the writ of habeas corpus?
On certiorari, the United States Supreme Court affirmed. The Court held that where there had been systematic exclusion of blacks from the grand jury which indicted the accused, the theory that the accused's conviction after a fair trial purged any taint attributable to the indictment process could not be sustained, and that federal habeas corpus relief was not precluded either by the fact that a long time had passed between the criminal conviction and the filing of the petition for federal habeas corpus or by the fact that it would be difficult for the state to obtain a second conviction if it retired the accused.