Ridley v. State, 44471

Decision Date18 January 1972
Docket NumberNo. 44471,44471
Citation475 S.W.2d 769
PartiesSteve Wilson RIDLEY, Appellant, v. The STATE of Texas, Appellee.
CourtTexas Court of Criminal Appeals

J. Charles Whitfield, Morris E. Belt, Jr., Houston, for appellant.

Carol S. Vance, Dist. Atty., James C. Brough and Vic Driscoll, Asst. Dist. Attys., Houston, and Jim D. Vollers, State's Atty., Austin, for the State.

OPINION

DOUGLAS, Judge.

This is an appeal from a conviction for robbery by assault. The appellant, a Negro male, made an application for probation and pled guilty before a jury. After evidence was heard, the jury was instructed to find him guilty and to assess punishment at life or any term of years not less than five. They were further instructed on the law pertaining to probation. The jury assessed punishment at five years and did not recommend probation.

The evidence reflects that on or about August 23, 1970, appellant and another were together at a Mobil Service Station in Harris County. Appellant inquired about road service from both attendants claiming his car was stopped in the middle of the freeway. One attendant got suspicious and went to a nearby restaurant to ask that they call the police. The other attendant was himself calling the police on the service station telephone when appellant's companion pulled a gun on him. The appellant also pulled a gun but did not point it at the attendant because his companion stood between them. The companion told this attendant to give him everything out of the cash drawer and threatened to kill him if he did not have more money. While the attendant was opening the cigarette machine a police officer drove up. The officer placed appellant in handcuffs, told the attendant to watch him, and went after appellant's companion. The companion and the police officer exchanged gunfire prior to the officer's capturing him.

After the jury was selected and before any pleading, the appellant filed a motion to quash the jury panel asking for a 'new shake' on the grounds that out of the available jury panel of thirty-two, ten of whom were Negro, seven Negroes were stricken (none by the appellant) as a calculated policy by the prosecutor to systematically eliminate members of the Negro race from the jury. The motion was overruled.

After judgment was rendered, the appellant made a motion for a new trial on the same grounds as his motion to quash with the further allegation that the elimination of Negroes from the jury prevented his obtaining a full and fair consideration of his plea for probation. A hearing was held and the motion was denied.

At the hearing on the motion for a new trial it was stipulated that seven out of the ten persons struck by the State were members of the Negro race. John Cutler, a criminal defense lawyer for twenty-three years mostly in Harris County, testified that in his experience the prosecutors in Harris County had a tendency to strike members of the Negro race in jury selection. He further testified that in ten out of eleven cases of his in the past year the prosecutor used his ten peremptory strikes to eliminate prospective Negro jurors. In three of those cases there were more than ten Negroes on the venire so that the seated jury was not all white.

Erwin Ernst, assistant district attorney for Harris County for fifteen years, testified that the prosecutor's office had no policy, official or unofficial, of systematic exclusion or inclusion of any racial group from the jury panel by use of the peremptory challenge. He testified that it had been his practice and that of some of his associates to use the peremptory strike only after considering together the facts of the case and the prospective juror. On cross-examination he admitted that he considered use of the peremptory strike to eliminate prospective Negro jurors from the panel when the accused was black and the victim white a matter of common sense. He considered this the general rule with many exceptions in this type of case. This general rule, he testified, was in his opinion 'to be more assured that justice is perhaps bent toward the Crown.'

M. W. Plummer, a practicing criminal lawyer for eighteen or nineteen years, testified that for the prosecutor to use seven out of ten strikes to eliminate members of the Negro race from the jury in a case where the accused was black and the victim white conformed with his experience. On cross-examination of Mr. Plummer the following occurred:

'Q. Do you feel in these cases you are talking about, where the prosecution uses its preemptory (sic) challenges to a large degree against Negroes, do you think it's done with an eye to all the facts and circumstances of a case and the parties involved, or do you think it's done in every case just because of their race without regard to the type of case or the parties involved?

'A. No, I couldn't make a general statement like that. They take into consideration all of the factors.'

Weldon H. Berry, another practicing attorney in Harris County for eighteen or nineteen years engaged partly in criminal defense work, was asked on direct examination:

'Q. Based on your experience, if I gave you a hypothetical situation and told you that there was a black defendant and a white victim in an armed robbery situation involving shooting and that on the jury panel there were six or seven Negroes, would you expect all of them to be struck and not seated on that jury panel, from your experience?

'A. I would expect them...

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25 cases
  • Russell v. State
    • United States
    • Texas Court of Criminal Appeals
    • March 12, 1980
    ...without merit. See Article 35.14, Vernon's Ann.C.C.P.; compare Duncantell v. State, 563 S.W.2d 252 (Tex.Cr.App.1978); Ridley v. State, 475 S.W.2d 769 (Tex.Cr.App.1972). Appellant next complains of the trial court's action in sustaining the State's challenge for cause to prospective juror To......
  • Williams v. State
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    • Texas Court of Criminal Appeals
    • June 22, 1988
    ...to strike qualified Blacks is not a prohibited systematic exclusion of Blacks in the selection of petit jurors. Ridley v. State, 475 S.W.2d 769, 772 (Tex.Cr.App.1972); Chambers v. State, 568 S.W.2d 313, 328 (Tex.Cr.App.1978); Evans v. State, 622 S.W.2d 866, 868, 869 (Tex.Cr.App.1981); McKay......
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    • Texas Court of Criminal Appeals
    • May 10, 1989
    ...therein at 328; McKay v. State, 707 S.W.2d 23, 39 (Tex.Cr.App.1985); Jason v. State, 589 S.W.2d 447 (Tex.Cr.App.1979); Ridley v. State, 475 S.W.2d 769 (Tex.Cr.App.1972)). My research to date has not yet revealed a single case where this Court reversed because of the race-neutral explanation......
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    • United States
    • Texas Court of Criminal Appeals
    • October 7, 1987
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