Hobby v. United States, No. 82-2140

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtBURGER
Citation82 L.Ed.2d 260,104 S.Ct. 3093,468 U.S. 339
Docket NumberNo. 82-2140
Decision Date02 July 1984
PartiesWilbur HOBBY, Petitioner v. UNITED STATES

468 U.S. 339
104 S.Ct. 3093
82 L.Ed.2d 260
Wilbur HOBBY, Petitioner

v.

UNITED STATES.

No. 82-2140.

Supreme Court of the United States

Argued April 25, 1984.
Decided July 2, 1984.
Syllabus

Petitioner, a white male, was indicted on federal fraud charges. Prior to trial, he moved for dismissal of the indictment on the ground that there was discrimination in the grand jury selection process in violation of the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment. At a hearing on the motion to dismiss, petitioner introduced testimony of a statistical social science consultant showing that for a 7-year period prior to petitioner's indictment none of the 15 grand juries empaneled had had a Negro or female foreman and that of the 15 deputy foremen appointed only 3 had been Negroes and 6 had been women. The District Court denied the motion to dismiss, and petitioner was convicted after a jury trial. The Court of Appeals affirmed.

Held: Assuming that discrimination entered into the selection of grand jury foremen, such discrimination does not warrant reversal of petitioner's conviction and dismissal of the indictment against him. Pp. 342-350.

(a) Discrimination in the selection of grand jury foremen—as distinguished from discrimination in the selection of the grand jury itself—does not in any sense threaten the interests of a defendant protected by the Due Process Clause. Unlike the grand jury itself, the office of grand jury foreman is not a creature of the Constitution, but, instead, was originally instituted by statute for the convenience of the court. The responsibilities of a federal grand jury foreman are essentially clerical in nature administering oaths, maintaining records, and signing indictments. Given its ministerial nature, the role of foreman is not so significant to the administration of justice that discrimination in the selection of the foreman has any appreciable effect on the defendant's due process right to fundamental fairness. And so long as the composition of a federal grand jury as a whole serves the defendant's due process interest in assuring that the grand jury includes persons with a range of experiences and perspectives, discrimination in the selection of the foreman does not impinge such interest. Pp. 342-346.

(b) An assumption that discrimination in the selection of a grand jury foreman requires the setting aside of a conviction is not warranted here where a white male is challenging on due process grounds the selection of the foreman of a federal grand jury. Rose v. Mitchell, 433 U.S. 545, 99 S.Ct. 2993, 61 L.Ed.2d 739, distinguished. Pp. 346-349.

Page 340

(c) This Court declines petitioner's invitation to embark, pursuant to its supervisory power over the federal courts, upon a course of vacating convictions because of discrimination in the selection of grand jury foremen. Pp. 349-350.

702 F.2d 466 (CA4 1983), affirmed.

Daniel R. Pollitt, Washington, D.C., for petitioner.

Joshua I. Schwartz, Washington, D.C., for respondents.

Chief Justice BURGER delivered the opinion of the Court.

We granted certiorari to resolve a conflict among the Circuits as to whether discrimination in the selection of federal grand jury foremen, resulting in the underrepresentation of Negroes and women in that position, requires reversal of the conviction of a white male defendant and dismissal of the indictment against him.

I

Petitioner, a white male, was indicted on one count of conspiring to defraud the United States of funds appropriated under the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. § 801 et seq. (CETA), in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 371 and 665, and three counts of fraudulently ob-

Page 341

taining and misapplying CETA grant funds, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 665. Prior to trial in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, petitioner moved for dismissal of the indictment against him "due to improper selection of grand jurors." App. 32. In particular, he alleged that the grand jury selection plan "exclude[d] citizens from service . . . on account of race, color, economic status and occupation, in violation of . . . the Fifth and Sixth Amendments of the United States Constitution." Id., at 33.

At an evidentiary hearing on the motion to dismiss, petitioner introduced the testimony of a statistical social science consultant regarding the characteristics of the persons selected as grand jury foremen or deputy foremen in the Eastern District of North Carolina between 1974 and 1981. The expert witness reported that none of the 15 grand juries empaneled during this 7-year period had had a Negro or female foreman. Of the 15 deputies appointed during this interval, so this expert testified, 3 had been Negroes and 6 had been women. From these data the expert witness concluded that Negroes and women were underrepresented among grand jury foremen and deputy foremen serving in the Eastern District of North Carolina. Rejecting petitioner's claim of discrimination in the selection process, the District Court denied petitioner's motion to dismiss the indictment, and petitioner was convicted after a jury trial.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit affirmed. 702 F.2d 466 (1983). Reasoning that the foreman of a federal grand jury performs a strictly ministerial function, the Court of Appeals viewed the foreman's impact upon the justice system and the rights of criminal defendants as minimal and incidental at most. In response to petitioner's contention that appointment as foreman may enlarge an individual's capacity to influence the other grand jurors, the Court of Appeals concluded that this likelihood was too vague and speculative to warrant dismissals of indictments and reversals of convictions.

Page 342

The Court of Appeals recognized that in Rose v. Mitchell, 443 U.S. 545, 551-552, n. 4, 99 S.Ct. 2993, 2997-2998, n. 4, 61 L.Ed.2d 739 (1979), this Court assumed without deciding that discrimination in the selection of the foreman of a state grand jury would require that a subsequent conviction be set aside. The Court of Appeals noted, however, that the function of the grand jury foreman in the federal system differs substantially from the role of the grand jury foreman in the states. The court concluded that the rights of defendants are fully protected by assuring that the composition of the federal grand jury as a whole is not the product of discriminatory selection.

We granted certiorari to resolve a conflict among the Circuits on this issue,1 464 U.S. 1017, 104 S.Ct. 547, 78 L.Ed.2d 722 (1983), and we affirm.

II
A.

It is well settled, of course, that purposeful discrimination against Negroes or women in the selection of federal grand jury foremen is forbidden by the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution. The question presented here, however, is the narrow one of the appropriate remedy for such a violation. It is only the narrow question of the remedy that we consider. No factual evidence was presented to the District Court on the issue of discrimination; instead, petitioner relied

Page 343

upon inferences to be drawn from the failure to select a woman or Negro as foreman of the grand jury for the seven years studied. As did the Court of Appeals, we proceed on the assumption that discrimination occurred in order to treat the constitutional issue presented by the motion to dismiss.

Invoking the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment, petitioner argues that discrimination in the selection of grand jury foremen requires the reversal of his conviction and dismissal of the indictment against him. In Peters v. Kiff, 407 U.S. 493, 92 S.Ct. 2163, 33 L.Ed.2d 83 (1972), the opinion announcing the judgment discussed the due process concerns implicated by racial discrimination in the composition of grand and petit juries as a whole. Emphasizing the defendant's due process right to be fairly tried by a competent and impartial tribunal, see In re Murchison, 349 U.S. 133, 136, 75 S.Ct. 623, 625, 99 L.Ed. 942 (1955), the opinion reasoned that unconstitutionally discriminatory jury selection procedures create the appearance of institutional bias, because they "cast doubt on the integrity of the whole judicial process." 407 U.S., at 502, 92 S.Ct., at 2168. Moreover, the opinion perceived an important societal value in assuring diversity of representation on grand and petit juries:

"When any large and identifiable segment of the community is excluded from jury service, the effect is to remove from the jury room qualities of human nature and varieties of human experience, the range of which is unknown and perhaps unknowable. It is not necessary to assume that the excluded group will consistently vote as a class in order to conclude, as we do, that its exclusion deprives the jury of a perspective on human events that may have unsuspected importance in any case that may be presented." Id., at 503-504, 92 S.Ct., at 2168-2169 (footnote omitted).2

Page 344

Discrimination in the selection of grand jury foremen—as distinguished from discrimination in the selection of the grand jury itself—does not in any sense threaten the interests of the defendant protected by the Due Process Clause. Unlike the grand jury itself, the office of grand jury foreman is not a creature of the Constitution; instead, the post of foreman was originally instituted by statute for the convenience of the court. See 28 U.S.C. § 420 (1934 ed.); Rev.Stat. § 809 (1878). Today, authority for the appointment of a grand jury foreman is found in Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 6(c), which provides:

"The court shall appoint one of the jurors to be foreman and another to be deputy foreman. The foreman shall have power to administer oaths and affirmations and shall sign all indictments. He or another juror designated by him shall keep a record of the number of jurors concurring in the finding of every indictment and shall file the record with the...

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149 practice notes
  • Ramseur v. Beyer, No. 90-5333
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (3rd Circuit)
    • December 31, 1992
    ...period of time" have covered periods substantially longer than the two years covered by this study. See Hobby v. United States, 468 U.S. 339, 341, 104 S.Ct. 3093, 3094, 82 L.Ed.2d 260 (1984) (7 years); Castaneda, 430 U.S. at 487, 97 S.Ct. at 1276 (11 years); Hernandez, 347 U.S. at 481, 74 S......
  • People v. Carrington, No. S043628.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • July 27, 2009
    ...from being present during other portions of the grand jury proceedings does not require automatic reversal]; Hobby v. United States (1984) 468 U.S. 339, 344-350, 104 S.Ct. 3093, 82 L.Ed.2d 260 [discrimination in selection of federal grand jury foreman does not require automatic reversal of ......
  • Bowen v. Kemp, No. 84-8327
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (11th Circuit)
    • August 6, 1985
    ...decision by the Supreme Court. United States v. Holman, 680 F.2d at 1356 n. 11. I construe Hobby v. United States, 468 U.S. ----, 104 S.Ct. 3093, 82 L.Ed.2d 260 (1984), as a contrary intervening decision which mandates a re-assessment of the Perez In Hobby, the Supreme Court evaluated the c......
  • Coe v. Bell, Nos. 97-5148
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (6th Circuit)
    • February 23, 1999
    ...and a fortiori did not do so as a matter of "existing precedent." The next source relied upon by Campbell is Hobby v. United States, 468 U.S. 339, 104 S.Ct. 3093, 82 L.Ed.2d 260 (1984). Hobby was decided several months after the Supreme Court denied Coe's writ of certiorari on direct appeal......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
149 cases
  • Ramseur v. Beyer, No. 90-5333
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (3rd Circuit)
    • December 31, 1992
    ...period of time" have covered periods substantially longer than the two years covered by this study. See Hobby v. United States, 468 U.S. 339, 341, 104 S.Ct. 3093, 3094, 82 L.Ed.2d 260 (1984) (7 years); Castaneda, 430 U.S. at 487, 97 S.Ct. at 1276 (11 years); Hernandez, 347 U.S. at 481, 74 S......
  • People v. Carrington, No. S043628.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • July 27, 2009
    ...from being present during other portions of the grand jury proceedings does not require automatic reversal]; Hobby v. United States (1984) 468 U.S. 339, 344-350, 104 S.Ct. 3093, 82 L.Ed.2d 260 [discrimination in selection of federal grand jury foreman does not require automatic reversal of ......
  • Bowen v. Kemp, No. 84-8327
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (11th Circuit)
    • August 6, 1985
    ...decision by the Supreme Court. United States v. Holman, 680 F.2d at 1356 n. 11. I construe Hobby v. United States, 468 U.S. ----, 104 S.Ct. 3093, 82 L.Ed.2d 260 (1984), as a contrary intervening decision which mandates a re-assessment of the Perez In Hobby, the Supreme Court evaluated the c......
  • Coe v. Bell, Nos. 97-5148
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (6th Circuit)
    • February 23, 1999
    ...and a fortiori did not do so as a matter of "existing precedent." The next source relied upon by Campbell is Hobby v. United States, 468 U.S. 339, 104 S.Ct. 3093, 82 L.Ed.2d 260 (1984). Hobby was decided several months after the Supreme Court denied Coe's writ of certiorari on direct appeal......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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