Reece v. State of Georgia

Decision Date05 December 1955
Docket NumberNo. 112,112
Citation350 U.S. 85,76 S.Ct. 167,100 L.Ed. 77
PartiesAmos REECE, Petitioner, v. STATE OF GEORGIA
CourtU.S. Supreme Court

See 350 U.S. 943, 76 S.Ct. 297.

Mr. Daniel Duke, Atlanta, Ga., for petitioner.

Messrs. Eugene Cook, Robert H. Hall, E. Freeman Leverett, Atlanta, Ga., for respondent.

Mr. Justice CLARK delivered the opinion of the Court.

Petitioner, Amos Reece, a Negro, was convicted of the rape of a white woman in Cobb County, Georgia. He contends here that Georgia's rule of practice requiring him to challenge the composition of the grand jury before indictment violates the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The Georgia Supreme Court affirmed his conviction, 211 Ga. 339, 85 S.E.2d 773, and we granted certiorari because of the important issues involved, 349 U.S. 944, 75 S.Ct. 877.

Reece was arrested on October 20, 1953, and was held in the county jail until his indictment three days later. On October 24, the day after his indictment, two local attorneys were appointed by the trial court to defend him. On October 30, before his arraignment, Reece moved to quash the indictment on the ground that Negroes had been systematically excluded from service on the grand jury. This motion was overruled after a hearing. On the same day, petitioner was tried, convicted and sentenced to be electrocuted. The Supreme Court of Georgia held that the motion to quash was properly denied because, by Georgia practice, objections to a grand jury must be made before the indictment is returned, 210 Ga. 578, 82 S.E.2d 10, but reversed the case on another ground, not pertinent here, and remanded it for a new trial.

Before his second trial Reece filed a special plea in abatement which alleged systematic exclusion of Negroes from the jury commission, the grand jury which indicted him and the petit jury about to be put upon him. This plea also stated that petitioner had neither knowledge of the grand jury nor the benefit of counsel before his indictment. The State's demurrer to this plea was sustained, and petitioner was again tried, convicted and sentenced to be electrocuted. It is this judgment which is here for review.

At the outset the State contends that the case is not properly before us because petitioner did not apply for a writ of certiorari within 90 days after the first judgment of the Supreme Court of Georgia. This contention is clearly without substance. A timely application for certiorari to review the second judgment was made, and the case is properly here. 28 U.S.C. § 1257, 28 U.S.C.A. § 1257. We have jurisdiction to consider all of the substantial federal questions determined in the earlier stages of the litigation, Urie v. Thompson, 337 U.S. 163, 172—173, 69 S.Ct. 1018, 1025—1026, 93 L.Ed. 1282, and our right to re-examine such questions is not affected by a ruling that the first decision of the state court became the law of the case, Davis v. O'Hara, 266 U.S. 314, 45 S.Ct. 104, 105, 69 L.Ed. 303.

This Court over the past 50 years has adhered to the view that valid grand jury selection is a constitutionally protected right. The indictment of a defendant by a grand-jury from which members of his race have been systematically excluded is a denial of his right to equal protection of the laws. Patton v. State of Mississippi, 332 U.S. 463, 68 S.Ct. 184, 92 L.Ed. 76; Norris v. State of Alabama, 294 U.S. 587, 55 S.Ct. 579, 79 L.Ed. 1074; Rogers v. State of Alabama, 192 U.S. 226, 24 S.Ct. 257, 48 L.Ed. 417; Carter v. State of Texas, 177 U.S. 442, 20 S.Ct. 687, 44 L.Ed. 839. Where no opportunity to challenge the grand-jury selection has been afforded a defendant, his right may be asserted by a plea in abatement or a motion to quash before arraignment, United States v. Gale, 109 U.S. 65, 72, 3 S.Ct. 1, 6, 27 L.Ed. 857. Of course, if such a motion is controverted it must be supported by evidence, Patton v. State of Mississippi, supra; Martin v. State of Texas, 200 U.S. 316, 26 S.Ct. 338, 50 L.Ed. 497.

We mention these principles since the State contests the merits of Reece's claim of systematic exclusion. In the hearing on his motion to quash before the first trial, he presented uncontradicted evidence to support the following facts: no Negro had served on the grand jury in Cobb County for the previous 18 years; the 1950 census showed that the county had a white population of 55,606 and a Negro population of 6,224; the same census showed a population of 16,201 male white citizens over 21 years of age, and 1,710 male Negro citizens over 21 years of age. Petitioner's motion alleged, and this was not contradicted, that there were 534 names on the grand-jury list and of this number only six were Negroes. Of the six Negroes, one did not reside in the county and the other five testified in this proceeding. Two were over 80 years of age: one was partially deaf and the other in poor health. The remaining three were 62 years of age. Each of the witnesses had lived in the county for at least 30 years. None had ever served on a grand jury nor heard of any other Negro serving on a grand jury in the county. The Clerk and Deputy Clerk of the court testified that the jury boxes had been revised in 1952, that there was no discrimination or systematic exclusion of Negroes from the grand-jury list, that six Negroes were on the list, and that neither had ever known a Negro to serve on a grand jury in Cobb County.

This evidence, without more, is sufficient to make a strong showing of systematic exclusion. The sizeable Negro population in the county, the fact that...

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215 cases
  • State v. Clark
    • United States
    • Connecticut Supreme Court
    • 2 d2 Março d2 1976
    ...215; Giles v. Maryland, 386 U.S. 66, 100, 87 S.Ct. 793, 17 L.Ed.2d 737 (concurring opinion of Fortas, J.).7 See Reece v. Georgia, 350 U.S. 85, 90, 76 S.Ct. 167, 100 L.Ed. 77; Glasser v. United States, 315 U.S. 60, 69-70, 62 S.Ct. 457, 86 L.Ed. 680; Avery v. Alabama, 308 U.S. 444, 446, 60 S.......
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    • North Carolina Supreme Court
    • 17 d1 Abril d1 1978
    ...S.E.2d 867 (1974). This right is no mere formality but is designed to guarantee effective assistance of counsel. Reece v. Georgia, 350 U.S. 85, 76 S.Ct. 167, 100 L.Ed. 77 (1955); Powell v. Alabama, supra ; State v. Sneed, Courts inquiring whether an accused has been denied effective represe......
  • State v. Mason
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    • 30 d2 Março d2 1982
    ...counsel. McMann v. Richardson, 397 U.S. 759, 771 n.14, 90 S.Ct. 1441, 1449 n.14, 25 L.Ed.2d 763 (1970); Reece v. Georgia, 350 U.S. 85, 90, 76 S.Ct. 167, 170-171, 100 L.Ed. 77 (1955); Powell v. Alabama, 287 U.S. 45, 71, 53 S.Ct. 55, 65, 77 L.Ed. 158 (1932). This right is equally applicable w......
  • Hobson v. Hansen
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Columbia
    • 19 d1 Junho d1 1967
    ...principals. Elementary schools have one of these, if any; secondary schools two or three. 88 See Reece v. State of Georgia, 350 U.S. 85, 88, 76 S.Ct. 167, 100 L.Ed. 77 (1955); Chambers v. Hendersonville City Bd. of Educ., 4 Cir., 364 F.2d 189, 192 (1966); Northcross v. Board of Educ., 6 Cir......
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    ...might be limited so as to have only prospectiveeffect. Justices Burton and Minton, with the concurrence of Reed and 42 Reece v. Georgia, 350 U.S. 85 (1955), and Pennsylvania ex rel. Herman v. Claudy, U.S. 116 (1956). 43 Chessman v. Teets, 350 U.S. 3 (1955); Michel v. Louisiana, 350 U.S. 91 ......
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