HUFFMAN v. FLORIDA
Annotate this Case
435 U.S. 1014 (1978)
U.S. Supreme Court
HUFFMAN v. FLORIDA , 435 U.S. 1014 (1978)
435 U.S. 1014
David S. HUFFMAN v. State of FLORIDA
Supreme Court of the United States
May 1, 1978
On petition for writ of certiorari to the Supreme Court of Florida.
The petition for a writ of certiorari is denied.
Mr. Justice MARSHALL, with whom Mr. Justice BRENNAN joins, dissenting.
Petitioner, a Negro male, was convicted by an all-white jury of raping a white woman, and was sentence to life imprisonment. [Footnote 1] In a post- conviction proceeding, he moved for a new trial on the ground that racial bias in the jury selection process deprived him of his Sixth Amendment right to an impartial jury and his Fourteenth Amendment rights to equal protection and due process. The trial court denied the motion, and the Florida District Court of Appeal affirmed without opinion, 336 So.2d 612 ( 1976). With three Justices dissenting, a four-man majority of the Florida Supreme Court dismissed petitioner's certiorari petition for lack of jurisdiction, without explanation. 350 So.2d 5 (1977).
There can be no dispute that Negroes were systematically excluded from petitioner's jury in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. The all- white jury was selected from an all-white venire, drawn from the same master jury list which the Florida District Court of Appeal held, in Jordan v. State, 293 So.2d 131 (1974), to have been composed in a racially discriminatory fashion. As the District Court of Appeal noted in Jordan, the jury list was derived by a method rife with opportunity for racial discrimination, and reflected a substantial statistical disparity between the proportion of Negroes included and those who were eligible. [Footnote 2] The State was unable
in Jordan to rebut the prima facie case of discrimination thus demonstrated, see, e. g., Castaneda v. Partida, 430 U.S. 482, 494-495 (1977); Alexander v. Louisiana, 405 U.S. 625, 630-631 (1972), and the State does not here contest that the jury which convicted petitioner was selected in an unconstitutional manner.
The State argues, instead, that we are foreclosed from reaching the merits of petitioner's claim by virtue of his failure to raise the issue by written motion prior to selection of the individual jurors, as required by Fla.Rule Crim.Proc. 3.290.3 But petitioner did present a timely oral motion, and, under the circumstances of this case, adherence to the requirement of a written motion would serve only "to force resort to an arid ritual of meaningless form." Staub v. Baxley, 355 U.S. 313, 320 (1958). As soon as he saw the all-white venire petitioner's counsel moved to strike the panel, and requested [435 U.S. 1014 , 1016]