Patton v. Mississippi
332 U.S. 463 (1947)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Patton v. Mississippi, 332 U.S. 463 (1947)

Patton v. Mississippi

No. 122

Argued November 21, 24, 1947

Decided December 8, 1947

332 U.S. 463

Syllabus

1. Petitioner, a Negro, was indicted for murder by an all-white grand jury and convicted by an all-white petit jury, notwithstanding a timely motion to quash the indictment. Although there were 12,511 adult Negroes in the county out of a total adult population of 34,821, and there were at least 25 Negro qualified male electors eligible for jury service, the venires for the term from which the grand and petit juries were selected did not contain the name of a single Negro, and no Negro had served on a grand or petit criminal court jury in the county for 30 years.

Held: the record sustains petitioner's claim of a systematic, purposeful, administrative exclusion of Negroes from jury duty contrary to the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment; the conviction is reversed, and the case is remanded for further proceedings. Pp. 332 U. S. 465-469.

2. Whether there has been systematic racial discrimination by administrative officials in the selection of jurors is a question to be determined from the facts in each particular case. P. 332 U. S. 466.

3. The fact that no Negro had served on a criminal court grand or petit jury for a period of 30 years created a strong presumption that Negroes were systematically excluded from jury service because of race, and it became the State's duty to justify such an exclusion as having been brought about for some reason other than racial discrimination. P. 332 U. S. 466.

4. Such a presumption was not overcome by an attempt to disprove systematic racial discrimination in the selection of jurors by percentage calculations applied to the composition of a single venire. P. 332 U. S. 468.

5. When a jury selection plan operates in such a way as always to result in the complete and long continued exclusion of any representative at all from a large group of Negroes, or any other racial group, indictments and verdicts returned against them by juries thus selected cannot stand. P. 332 U. S. 469.

201 Miss. 410, 29 So.2d 96, reversed.

The Supreme Court of Mississippi affirmed a state trial court's denial of a motion to quash an indictment for

Page 332 U. S. 464

murder because of systematic racial discrimination in the selection of jurors contrary to the Fourteenth Amendment. 201 Miss. 410, 29 So.2d 96. This Court granted certiorari. 331 U.S. 804. Reversed and remanded, p. 332 U. S. 469.

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