Alexander v. Louisiana
405 U.S. 625 (1972)

Annotate this Case

U.S. Supreme Court

Alexander v. Louisiana, 405 U.S. 625 (1972)

Alexander v. Louisiana

No. 70-5026

Argued December 6-7, 1971

Decided April 3, 1972

405 U.S. 625

Syllabus

Petitioner, a Negro, attacks his rape conviction in Lafayette Parish, which was affirmed by the Louisiana Supreme Court, contending that the grand jury selection procedures followed in his case were invidiously discriminatory against Negroes and, because of a statutory exemption provision, against women. The jury commissioners (all white) sent out questionnaires (including a space for racial designation) to those on a list compiled from nonracial sources. Of the 7,000-odd returns, 1,015 (14%) were from Negroes, though Negroes constituted 21% of the parish population presumptively eligible for grand jury service. By means of two culling-out procedures, when racial identifications that the commissioners had attached to the forms were plainly visible, the pool was reduced to 400, of whom 27 (7%) were Negro, from which group the 20-man grand jury venires were drawn. Petitioner's venire included one Negro (5%), and the grand jury that indicted him had none. There was no evidence of conscious racial selection, and one commissioner testified that race was no consideration.

Held:

1. Petitioner made out a prima facie case of invidious racial discrimination in the selection of the grand jury that indicted him -- not only on a statistical basis but by a showing that the selection procedures were not racially neutral -- and the State, which did not adequately explain the disproportionately low number of Negroes throughout the selection process, did not meet the burden of rebutting the presumption of unconstitutionality in the procedures used. Cf. Avery v. Georgia,345 U. S. 559; Whitus v. Georgia,385 U. S. 545. Pp. 405 U. S. 628-632.

2. Petitioner's contentions regarding discrimination against women in the selection of grand jurors are not reached. Pp. 405 U. S. 633-634.

255 La. 941, 233 So.2d 891, reversed.

WHITE, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C.J., and BRENNAN, STEWART, MARSHALL, and BLACKMUN, JJ, joined, and in Part I of which DOUGLAS, J., joined. DOUGLAS, J., filed a concurring opinion, post, p. 405 U. S. 634. POWELL and REHNQUIST, JJ., took no part in the consideration or decision of the case.

Page 405 U. S. 626

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