Murphy v. Florida
421 U.S. 794 (1975)

Annotate this Case

U.S. Supreme Court

Murphy v. Florida, 421 U.S. 794 (1975)

Murphy v. Florida

No. 74-5116

Argued April 15, 1975

Decided June 16, 1975

421 U.S. 794

Syllabus

Petitioner, who was convicted in state court of robbery, contends in this habeas corpus proceeding that he was denied a fair trial because jurors had learned from news accounts of prior felony convictions or certain facts about the robbery charge. In the course of jury selection 78 members of the panel were questioned, 70 being excused (30 for personal reasons, 20 peremptorily, and 20 by the court as having prejudged petitioner), and eight being selected (including two alternates). The District Court and the Court of Appeals denied relief.

Held:

1. Juror exposure to information about a state defendant's prior convictions or to news accounts of the crime with which he is charged do not alone presumptively deprive the defendant of due process. Irvin v. Dowd,366 U. S. 717; Rideau v. Louisiana,373 U. S. 723; Estes v. Texas,381 U. S. 532; Sheppard v. Maxwell,384 U. S. 333, distinguished. Pp. 421 U. S. 797-799.

2. The voir dire in this case indicates no such juror hostility to petitioner as to suggest a partiality that could not be laid aside. Though some jurors vaguely recalled the robbery and each had some knowledge of petitioner's past crimes, none betrayed any belief in the relevance to the robbery case of petitioner's past, and there was no indication from the circumstances surrounding petitioner's trial or from the number of the panel excused for prejudgment of petitioner, of inflamed community sentiment to counter the indicia of impartiality disclosed by the voir dire transcript. Thus, in the totality of the circumstances, petitioner failed to show inherent prejudice in the trial setting or actual prejudice from the jury selection process. Pp. 421 U. S. 799-803.

495 F.2d 553, affirmed.

MARSHALL, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which DOUGLAS, STEWART, WHITE, BLACKMUN, POWELL, and REHNQUIST, JJ., joined. BURGER, C.J., filed an opinion concurring in the judgment, post, p. 421 U. S. 803. BRENNAN, J., filed a dissenting opinion, post, p. 421 U. S. 804.

Page 421 U. S. 795

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