Francis v. Henderson
425 U.S. 536 (1976)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Francis v. Henderson, 425 U.S. 536 (1976)

Francis v. Henderson

No. 74-5808

Argued December 9-10, 1975

Decided May 3, 1976

425 U.S. 536

Syllabus

Six years after his conviction for felony murder from which he took no appeal, petitioner sought collateral relief from the state court on the ground, inter alia, that Negroes had been excluded from the grand jury that indicted him. Relief was denied on the ground that petitioner's failure to raise the claim before trial constituted a waiver of that claim under state law. Petitioner then sought habeas corpus in the District Court, which granted relief. The Court of Appeals reversed, relying on Davis v. United States,411 U. S. 233, which held that a federal prisoner who had failed to timely challenge the allegedly unconstitutional composition of the grand jury that indicted him could not, after his conviction, attack the grand jury's composition in an action for federal collateral relief.

Held: The Court of Appeals correctly held that the Davis rule, which requires not only a showing of "cause" for the defendant's failure to challenge the composition of the grand jury before trial, but also a showing of actual prejudice, applies with equal force when a federal court is asked in a habeas corpus proceeding to overturn a state court conviction because of an allegedly unconstitutional grand jury indictment. The Louisiana time limitation was designed to serve the same important purposes of sound judicial administration as were stressed in Davis, supra at 411 U. S. 241, and considerations of comity and federalism require that those purposes be accorded no less recognition when a federal court is asked to overturn a state conviction than when it is asked to overturn a federal conviction because of an allegedly unconstitutional grand jury indictment. Pp. 425 U. S. 538-542.

496 F.2d 896, affirmed.

STEWART, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C.J., and WHITE, BLACKMUN, POWELL, and REHNQUIST, JJ., joined. BRENNAN, J., filed a dissenting opinion, post, p. 425 U. S. 542. MARSHALL, J., took no part in the decision of the case. STEVENS, J., took no part in the consideration or decision of the case.

Page 425 U. S. 537

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