FORD v. KENTUCKY
Annotate this Case
469 U.S. 984 (1984)
U.S. Supreme Court
FORD v. KENTUCKY , 469 U.S. 984 (1984)
469 U.S. 984
Louis M. Parker FORD
Supreme Court of the United States
November 5, 1984
On petition for writ of certiorari to the Supreme Court of Kentucky.
The petition for a writ of certiorari is denied.
Justice MARSHALL, dissenting.
Petitioner is a Negro male who was 51 at the time he was indicted for murder in Franklin County, Ky. He challenged the composition of the grand jury that indicted him on the grounds, inter alia, that women and young adults were substantially and systematically underrepresented on grand juries in Franklin County. Testimony from a statistician concluded that this underrepresentation was statistically significant. Evidence was also presented that the selection system was not facially neutral, for the voter registration list from which grand jurors are selected in the county contains information on the gender, race, and date of birth of the prospective grand jurors. [Footnote 1]
Despite petitioner's assertion and his substantiating evidence, the Kentucky Supreme Court refused to consider the merits of this challenge. 665 S.W.2d 304 (1984). Instead, that court held that, because petitioner was a 51-year-old Negro male, he had no standing to challenge the exclusion of women or young adults from grand juries in Franklin County. The court rested its conclusion on the view that challenges to the composition of a grand jury must be rooted in the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment rather than in that Amendment's due process component. Thus, the court below concluded that petitioner himself
had no recourse for challenging the imbalance of the grand jury that indicted him. [Footnote 2]
The conclusion of the Kentucky Supreme Court is flatly at odds with the opinion announcing this Court's judgment in Peters v. Kiff, 407 U.S. 493 (1972). That opinion, joined by three Justices, stated: "[W]hen a grand or petit jury has been selected on an impermissible basis, the existence of a constitutional violation does not depend on the circumstances [i.e., the standing] of the person making the claim . . . . [A] State cannot, consistent with due process, subject a defendant to indictment or trial by a jury that has been selected in an arbitrary and discriminatory manner, in violation of the Constitution and laws of the United States." Id., at 498, 502, 2168 ( emphasis added). This three-Justice opinion therefore concluded that a white male had standing under both the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to bring a racial-discrimination challenge to the state system used to select his grand and petit juries. [Footnote 3]
The standing question is particularly important in light of the fact that, as of 1977, at least 22 States had some sort of discretionary system for the selection of grand jurors. J. Van Dyke, Jury Selection Procedures : Our Uncertain Commitment to Representative Panels, Appendix B, pp. 264- 270 (1977). Because the opinion announcing the judgment in Peters was joined by only [469 U.S. 984 , 986]
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