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United States Supreme Court

339 U.S. 282

Cassell  v.  Texas

 Argued: Nov. 10, 1949. --- Decided: April 24, 1950

Mr. Justice CLARK, concurring.

For the reasons stated by Mr. Justice JACKSON, it seems to me quite doubtful as an original issue whether a conviction should be reversed because of purposeful exclusion of the members of a race from the grand jury which returned the indictment. However, I think we must adhere to the settled course of decision by this Court with respect to such exclusion.

I am unable to conclude that from the date of the decision in Hill v. State of Texas, 1942, 316 U.S. 400, 62 S.Ct. 1159, 86 L.Ed. 1559, to the date of the trial of this case there has been purposeful systematic limitation of the number of Negroes on grand juries in Dallas County. The only evidence relied upon to establish such limitation is with regard to the composition of the twenty-one grand juries, including the jury returning the indictment of petitioner, which were impaneled during this period. But each of these grand juries of twelve persons was selected by a judge from a list of sixteen persons prepared by commissioners. The record shows only those Negroes who have actually served on the grand juries and not those who were on the commissioners' lists. We cannot conclude that there has been uniformity as to race in the selections of commissioners when we do not know how many Negroes have been on their lists. Even if judicial notice is taken of the racial composition of three lists during the period in question, which are reported in Akins v. State of Texas, 1945, 325 U.S. 398, 405, 65 S.Ct. 1276, 1280, 89 L.Ed. 1692, and in Weems v. State, 1945, 148 Tex.Crim. 154, 157, 185 S.W.2d 431, 433, there remain sixty-eight persons on the lists whose race is not ascertainable from the record or from any concession of counsel. Nor do I think that alternatively we are compelled by the statistics relied upon by petitioner to conclude that the judges purposefully discriminated during this period. Any presumption as to the purpose of the judges, or of the commissioners whom the judges appointed, instructed and supervised, must be that they intended no racial limitation. And the testimony of the judge who impaneled the grand jury in this case and a number of other grand juries during the period under review, as well as the testimony of the commissioners in this case as to the judge's instructions to them, indicates that he has not purposefully limited participation on account of race. In the face of this presumption and testimony, I think that, even if there was more than one Negro on each of the commissioners' list, we could not infer any purpose on the part of the judges to limit Negro participation solely because of race. The burden of showing facts which permit an inference of purposeful limitation is on the defendant. Martin v. State of Texas, 1906, 200 U.S. 316, 26 S.Ct. 338, 50 L.Ed. 497. I do not find the present record persuasive that there was such limitation.

The difficulties facing grand jury commissioners are well illustrated by this case. On the one hand they are told that purposeful discrimination is inferred from the available statistics during the previous five and one-half years, showing that no more than one Negro was chosen for each of 21 grand juries; that this indicates that the commissioners must have been guided by the misconceived view that the presence of one Negro on the grand jury satisfied constitutional requirements. But they are also told quite properly that a token representation of a race on a grand jury is not a constitutional requisite; that in fact it may reach the point of illegality; that representation on the grand jury by race in proportion to population is not permissible for there must be 'neither inclusion nor exclusion because of race.' Under these circumstances one may, like Job's comforter, only add to the commissioners' distress by writing further. But it does appear to me from this record that their responsibility is broader than they understood it to be. They frankly stated that in making up the list they discussed only those persons whom they knew personally, and that they considered only one Negro, a school principal who could not serve. The record indicates clearly that there were Negroes qualified and available whom the commissioners did not know but whom upon inquiry they should have considered. Their responsibility was to learn whether there were persons among the Negroes they did not know who were qualified and available for service. Hill v. State of Texas, 1942, 316 U.S. 400, 62 S.Ct. 1159, 86 L.Ed. 1559; Smith v. State of Texas, 1940, 311 U.S. 128, 61 S.Ct. 164, 85 L.Ed. 84. The elimination of this large group in the community from the commissioners' consideration deprived petitioner of constitutional safeguards as defined in the decisions of this Court. For this reason I concur in the opinion of Mr. Justice REED and in the judgment of reversal.

Mr. Justice JACKSON, dissenting.


This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).