Ham v. South Carolina,
409 U.S. 524 (1973)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Ham v. South Carolina, 409 U.S. 524 (1973)

Ham v. South Carolina

No. 71-5139

Argued November 6, 1972

Decided January 17, 1973

409 U.S. 524


Petitioner, a civil rights worker, claims that the trial resulting in his drug conviction (which was affirmed by the South Carolina Supreme Court) was not fair because of the trial court's refusal to examine jurors on voir dire as to possible prejudice arising from the fact that petitioner is a Negro and that he wears a beard.

Held: The trial court's refusal to make any inquiry of the jurors as to racial bias after petitioner's timely request therefor denied petitioner a fair trial in violation of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Its refusal to inquire as to particular bias against beards, after it had make inquiries as to bias in general, was not constitutional error. Pp. 409 U. S. 526-529.

256 S.C. 1, 180 S.D.2d 628, reversed.

REHNQUIST, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C.J., and BRENNAN, STEWART, WHITE, BLACKMUN, and POWELL, JJ., joined. DOUGLAS, post, p. 409 U. S. 529, and MARSHALL, JJ., post, p. 409 U. S. 530, filed opinions concurring in part and dissenting in part.

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