Petitioners, Negroes who had been indicted by an all-white grand
jury in North Carolina, moved to quash the indictment on the ground
that Negroes had been systematically excluded from grand juries in
the county in which they were indicted. Although it was shown by
uncontradicted evidence that Negroes comprise over 28% of persons
on the tax records of the county, and over 30% of the persons on
the poll tax list from which jurors are drawn, and that only one
Negro served on a grand jury in 24 years, the motion was overruled,
and petitioners were convicted of murder.
The testimony made out a prima facie
case of denial of the equal protection of the laws by systematic
exclusion of Negroes from grand jury duty. Eubanks v.
Louisiana, 356 U. S. 584
258 N.C. 563, 129 S.E.2d
The petitioners, Arnold and Dixon, were found guilty of murder
by a jury, and their convictions were affirmed, the Supreme Court
of North Carolina concluding that they had not made out a case of
systematic exclusion of Negroes from the grand jury which returned
the indictment. 258 N.C. 563, 129 S.E.2d
. In support of their motion to quash the indictment because
of consistent exclusion of Negroes from grand jury service,
Page 376 U. S. 774
both Negroes, offered testimony of the county tax supervisor
showing that the tax records of the county, on which Negro and
white persons are listed separately and from which the names of
jurors are derived, revealed 12,250 white persons and 4,819 Negroes
in the county, with 5,583 white men and 2,499 Negro men listed for
poll tax. In addition, the clerk of the trial court testified that,
while there have been as many as four or five Negroes upon the
regular jury panel from which grand jurors have been chosen, in his
24 years as clerk, he could remember only one Negro serving on a
ground jury, another having been selected but excused. This
evidence was uncontradicted, the State cross-examining the
witnesses but offering no evidence.
The judgment below must be reversed. The "testimony in itself
made out a prima facie
case of the denial of the equal
protection which the Constitution guarantees." Norris v.
Alabama, 294 U. S. 587
294 U. S. 591
The situation here is quite like that in Eubanks v.
Louisiana, 356 U. S. 584
356 U. S. 586
where systematic exclusion of Negroes from grand jury duty was
found. In that case:
"Although Negroes comprise about one-third of the population of
the parish, the uncontradicted testimony of various witnesses
established that only one Negro had been picked for grand jury duty
within memory. . . . From 1936, when the Commission first began to
include Negroes in the pool of potential jurors, until 1954, when
petitioner was indicted, 36 grand juries were selected in the
parish. Six or more Negroes were included in each list submitted to
the local judges. Yet, out of the 432 jurors selected, only the
single Negro was chosen."
See also Hernandez v. Texas, 347 U.