Gilliard v. Mississippi, No. 82-6775

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtMARSHALL
Citation464 U.S. 867,104 S.Ct. 40,78 L.Ed.2d 179
Decision Date03 October 1983
Docket NumberNo. 82-6775
PartiesRobert C. GILLIARD, Jr. v. MISSISSIPPI

464 U.S. 867
104 S.Ct. 40
78 L.Ed.2d 179
Robert C. GILLIARD, Jr.

v.

MISSISSIPPI

No. 82-6775

Supreme Court of the United States

October 3, 1983

On petition for writ of certiorari to the Supreme Court of Mississippi.

The petition for writ of certiorari is denied.

Justice MARSHALL, with whom Justice BRENNAN joins, dissenting from denial of certiorari.

Adhering to my view that the death penalty is under all circumstances cruel and unusual punishment forbidden by the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments, I would vacate the judgment of the Supreme Court of Mississippi insofar as it left undisturbed the death sentence imposed in this case. Gregg v. Georgia, 428 U.S. 153, 231, 96 S.Ct. 2909, 2973, 49 L.Ed.2d 859 (1976) (MARSHALL, J., dissenting). However, even if I believed that the death penalty could constitutionally be imposed under certain circumstances, I would grant certiorari and vacate the death sentence imposed here.

For the third time this year, this Court has refused to review a case in which an all-white jury has sentenced a Negro defendant to death after the prosecution used peremptory challenges to remove all Negroes from the jury. See Miller v. Illinois and Perry

Page 868

v. Louisiana decided together with McCray v. New York, 461 U.S. ----, 103 S.Ct. 2438, 77 L.Ed.2d 1322 (1983) (MARSHALL, J., dissenting from denial of certiorari). The facts of each case follow a now familiar pattern: For-cause challenges by both defense counsel and the prosecution leave an integrated jury panel. The prosecution then resorts to peremptory challenges to remove Negro members of the panel. Despite defense counsel efforts to show that the prosecution has excluded jurors on the basis of race, the trial court rules that defendant has failed to establish systematic exclusion in the manner required by this Court in Swain v. Alabama, 380 U.S. 202, 85 S.Ct. 824, 13 L.Ed.2d 759 (1965). The all-white jury proceeds to hear the case and sentence the Negro defendant to death.

The present case does not deviate from this pattern in any material respect. Petitioner, who is a Negro, pleaded guilty to killing Grady Chance during an armed robbery of Mr. Chance's store. In accordance with Miss.Code Ann. § 99-19-101 (Supp.1982), a sentencing trial was then held. After for-cause challenges, the prosecution was presented a jury panel including seven Negroes. The prosecution peremptorily challenged the seven Negroes. After defense counsel exercised its peremptory challenges, the panel contained one Negro. The prosecution then used an additional peremptory challenge to remove the Negro. During a hearing held to consider petitioner's motion to quash the jury, the prosecutor took the stand, and offered reasons for three of his peremptory challenges but could not remember why he exercised the other five. Although the prosecutor had used peremptory challenges to remove all the Negro jurors and only the Negro jurors,1 the trial court nevertheless denied petitioner's motion, and the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed, relying on Swain v. Alabama, supra, and two of its own precedents that, in turn, had relied on Swain: Gaines v. State, 404 So.2d 557, 560 (Miss.1981); Coleman v. State, 378 So.2d 640, 645 (Miss.1979). An all-white jury then heard the evidence and sentenced petitioner to death.

Last Term, when the Court denied petitions for certiorari in the two cases mentioned above, I outlined my objections to the

Page 869

Court's holding in Swain v. Alabama, and expressed my opinion that, regardless of Swain's interpretation of the Equal Protection Clause, the use of peremptory challenges to exclude racial minorities violates a criminal defendant's Sixth and Fourteenth Amendment rights to be tried by a jury selected from a fair cross-section of the community. McCray v. New York, supra, at ----, 103 S.Ct. at 2441 (MARSHALL, J., dissenting); see Taylor v. Louisiana, 419 U.S. 522, 95 S.Ct. 692, 42 L.Ed.2d 690 (1975); Duncan v. Louisiana, 391 U.S. 145, 88 S.Ct. 1444, 20 L.Ed.2d 491 (1968). I continue to hold these views and need not repeat them here.

I write today to address those of my Colleagues who agree with me that the use of peremptory challenges in these cases presents important constitutional questions, but believe that this Court should postpone consideration of the issue until more state supreme courts and federal circuits have experimented with substantive and procedural solutions to the problem. Although I appreciate my Colleagues' inclination to delay until a consensus emerges on how best to deal with misuse of peremptory challenges, I believe that for the Court to indulge that inclination on this occasion is inappropriate and ill-advised.

When Justice Brandeis originally analogized the states to laboratories in need of freedom to experiment, he was dissenting from a decision by the Court applying a now-discredited interpretation of the Due Process Clause to strike down an Oklahoma statute regulating the sale and distribution of ice. See New State Ice Co. v. Liebmann, 285 U.S. 262, 310-311, 52 S.Ct. 371, 386, 76 L.Ed. 747 (1932). As Justice Brandeis recognized, an overly protective view of substantive due process unnecessarily stifles public welfare legislation at the state level. Since then, however, the power of the states-as-laboratories metaphor has propelled Justice Brandeis' conceit far beyond the sphere of social and economic regulation. Now we find the metaphor employed to justify this Court's abstention from reaching an important issue involving the rights of individual defendants under the federal Constitution.

When a majority of this Court suspects that such rights are being regularly abridged, the Court shrinks from its constitutional duty by awaiting developments in state or other federal courts. Because abuse of peremptory challenges appears to be most prevalent in capital cases, the need for immediate review in this Court is all the more urgent. If we postpone consideration of the issue much longer, petitioners in this and similar cases will be put to death before their constitutional rights can be vindicated. Under

Page 870

the circumstances, I do not understand how in good conscience we can await further developments, regardless of how helpful those developments might be to our own deliberations.

Moreover, I have serious misgivings about my Colleagues' assumption that many states will, in the foreseeable future, engage in meaningful reconsideration of the discriminatory use of peremptory challenges. In the area of individual rights, state courts traditionally have looked to the federal judiciary for leadership. When decisions of this Court have expanded personal liberties in an area, state judiciaries have followed and, upon occasion, interpreted state constitutional liberties to exceed those guaranteed by the federal constitution. But, conversely, when this Court has announced a clearly defined, but limited federal constitutional protection for a particular right, the state supreme...

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128 practice notes
  • McCray v. Abrams, No. 1272
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (2nd Circuit)
    • December 4, 1984
    ...(1984); People v. McCray, 57 N.Y.2d at 545, 457 N.Y.S.2d at 442-43, 443 N.E.2d at 916-17. See also Gilliard v. Mississippi, --- U.S. ----, 104 S.Ct. 40, 40-44, 78 L.Ed.2d 179 (1983) (Marshall, J., dissenting from denial of certiorari (collecting cases)); State v. Neil, 457 So.2d at 484 n. 3......
  • Watson v. State, No. 1052-86
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Texas. Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas
    • December 14, 1988
    ...has waived his rights thereunder." Taylor, 563 F.2d at 136. In McClinnahan v. United States, 454 A.2d 1340 (D.C.App.1982), cert. denied, 464 U.S. 867, 104 S.Ct. 205, 78 L.Ed.2d 179 (1983), before making his confession, the defendant was absolutely silent during his arrest and the following ......
  • Grigsby v. Mabry, No. 83-2113
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (8th Circuit)
    • March 18, 1985
    ...v. Illinois, --- U.S. ----, 104 S.Ct. 2364, 80 L.Ed.2d 836 (1984) (Marshall, J., dissenting); Gilliard v. Mississippi, --- U.S. ----, 104 S.Ct. 40, 78 L.Ed.2d 179 (1983) (Marshall, J., dissenting). No stated reason is necessary in exercising peremptory challenges. To establish a rule that j......
  • Teague v. Lane, No. 84-2474
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • May 11, 1987
    ...Supreme Court denied Teague's Petition for Leave to Appeal, 93 Ill.2d 547 (1983), and the United States Supreme Court denied certiorari. 464 U.S. 867, 104 S.Ct. 206, 78 L.Ed.2d 179 (1983). Teague then filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in the federal district court. Page 834 The d......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
128 cases
  • McCray v. Abrams, No. 1272
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (2nd Circuit)
    • December 4, 1984
    ...(1984); People v. McCray, 57 N.Y.2d at 545, 457 N.Y.S.2d at 442-43, 443 N.E.2d at 916-17. See also Gilliard v. Mississippi, --- U.S. ----, 104 S.Ct. 40, 40-44, 78 L.Ed.2d 179 (1983) (Marshall, J., dissenting from denial of certiorari (collecting cases)); State v. Neil, 457 So.2d at 484 n. 3......
  • Watson v. State, No. 1052-86
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Texas. Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas
    • December 14, 1988
    ...has waived his rights thereunder." Taylor, 563 F.2d at 136. In McClinnahan v. United States, 454 A.2d 1340 (D.C.App.1982), cert. denied, 464 U.S. 867, 104 S.Ct. 205, 78 L.Ed.2d 179 (1983), before making his confession, the defendant was absolutely silent during his arrest and the following ......
  • Grigsby v. Mabry, No. 83-2113
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (8th Circuit)
    • March 18, 1985
    ...v. Illinois, --- U.S. ----, 104 S.Ct. 2364, 80 L.Ed.2d 836 (1984) (Marshall, J., dissenting); Gilliard v. Mississippi, --- U.S. ----, 104 S.Ct. 40, 78 L.Ed.2d 179 (1983) (Marshall, J., dissenting). No stated reason is necessary in exercising peremptory challenges. To establish a rule that j......
  • Teague v. Lane, No. 84-2474
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • May 11, 1987
    ...Supreme Court denied Teague's Petition for Leave to Appeal, 93 Ill.2d 547 (1983), and the United States Supreme Court denied certiorari. 464 U.S. 867, 104 S.Ct. 206, 78 L.Ed.2d 179 (1983). Teague then filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in the federal district court. Page 834 The d......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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