429 U.S. 122 (1976), 76-5403, Davis v. Georgia

Docket Nº:No. 76-5403
Citation:429 U.S. 122, 97 S.Ct. 399, 50 L.Ed.2d 339
Party Name:Davis v. Georgia
Case Date:December 06, 1976
Court:United States Supreme Court
 
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Page 122

429 U.S. 122 (1976)

97 S.Ct. 399, 50 L.Ed.2d 339

Davis

v.

Georgia

No. 76-5403

United States Supreme Court

Dec. 6, 1976

ON PETITION FOR WRIT OF CERTIORARI

TO THE SUPREME COURT OF GEORGIA

Syllabus

Petitioner's death sentence for murder cannot be carried out where one prospective juror was excluded from the jury for cause for merely expressing scruples against the death penalty, rather than being irrevocably committed to vote against it. Witherspoon v. Illinois, 391 U.S. 510.

Certiorari granted; 236 Ga. 804, 225 S.E.2d 241, reversed and remanded.

Per curiam opinion.

PER CURIAM.

The petitioner in this case was convicted of murder and sentenced to death after trial by a jury selected in violation of the standards enunciated in Witherspoon v. Illinois, 391 U.S. 510 (1968), and applied in Boulden v. Holman, 394 U.S. 478 (1969), and Maxwell v. Bishop, 398 U.S. 262 (1970). The Witherspoon case held that

a sentence of death cannot be carried out if the jury that imposed or recommended it was chosen by excluding veniremen for cause simply because they voiced general objections to the death penalty. or expressed conscientious or religious scruples against its infliction.

391 U.S. at 522.

The Supreme Court of Georgia found that one prospective juror had been excluded in violation of the Witherspoon standard. The court nevertheless affirmed the conviction and death sentence, reasoning that the erroneous exclusion of one death-scrupled juror did not deny the petitioner a jury representing a cross-section of the community, since other jurors sharing that attitude were not excused for cause:

The rationale of Witherspoon and its progeny is not violated where merely one of a qualified class or group is excluded where it is shown, as here, that others of such group were qualified to serve. This record is completely void of any

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evidence of a systematic and intentional exclusion of a qualified group of jurors so as to deny the appellant a jury of veniremen representing a cross-section of the community.

236 Ga. 804, 809-810, 225 S.E.2d 241, 244-245.

That, however, is not the test established in Witherspoon, and it is not the test that this Court has applied in subsequent [97 S.Ct. 400] cases where a death penalty was imposed after the improper exclusion of one member of the venire. See Wigglesworth v. Ohio, 403 U.S. 947 (1971), rev'g 18 Ohio St.2d 171, 248 N.E.2d 607 (1969); Harris v. Texas, 403 U.S. 947 (1971), rev'g 457 S.W.2d 903 (Tex.Crim.App. 1970); Adams v. Washington, 403 U.S. 947 (1971), rev'g 76 Wash.2d 650, 458 P.2d 558 (1969)....

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