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|
ON PETITION FOR WRIT OF CERTIORARI
TO THE SUPREME COURT OF GEORGIA
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.
Per curiam opinion.
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.
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
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.
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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