State v. Brewer, 58913

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Iowa
Writing for the CourtHeard before MOORE; HARRIS
Citation247 N.W.2d 205
PartiesSTAE of Iowa, Appellee, v. Ronald Wayne BREWER, Appellant.
Docket NumberNo. 58913,58913
Decision Date17 November 1976

Thomas M. Horan, Marion, and Timothy S. White, Cedar Rapids, for appellant.

Richard C. Turner, Atty. Gen., Joseph S. Beck, Jim P. Robbins and Thomas Mann, Jr., Asst. Attys. Gen., and Stephen E. Locher, County Atty., for appellee.


HARRIS, Justice.

Defendant was charged, tried and convicted of first-degree murder in violation of § 690.2, The Code, and thereafter brought this appeal in which he raises nine assignments of error. We find all nine assignments to be without merit and affirm the trial court.

Taking the evidence in the light most consistent with the verdict the following facts appear. At about 5:30 p.m. on January 29, 1975 Herbert Pennock, a guard at the men's reformatory in Anamosa, picked up the defendant Ronald Brewer (Brewer) at the reformatory. Brewer was given permission to leave the reformatory in order to teach a night class at the Anamosa high school. Pennock was to provide transportation. Two days earlier Pennock had purchased a rifle and ammunition at Brewer's request. According to Pennock Brewer told him he needed the rifle and the ammunition in order to escape with Mrs. Clarence Edwards. Mrs. Edwards, a resident of Anamosa, was employed at the reformatory and was known to Brewer. Brewer told Pennock he needed the rifle to ward off Mr. Edwards.

Pennock gave the rifle to Brewer and, after class equipment was unloaded at the high school, drove him to the home of Mr. and Mrs. Edwards. Pennock thereupon returned to the high school. Brewer appeared at the high school a short time later and told Pennock he had shot the Edwards. Thereafter Pennock took Brewer to Dubuque where Brewer was picked up by someone else. Pennock then phoned authorities and stated he had been kidnapped.

On January 30, 1975 Greg Holub, Mrs. Edward's son, went to the Edwards home at about 7:00 a.m. He found both the Edwards shot to death. The authorities were notified and Brewer was subsequently captured. In this prosecution Brewer was tried for the murder of Clarence Edwards.

Other facts can be more appropriately recited in connection with the specific assignments.

I. Brewer's first assignment challenges the constitutionality of Iowa's statutory scheme for designating petit jury panels. While all statutory exemptions are assailed, Brewer focuses his challenge on the provision exempting persons over 65 years of age. In Linn County, where trial was had following a change of venue, 14.43 percent of the registered voters were over 65. Brewer summarizes his challenge by arguing the systematic exclusion of persons over 65 by the jury commission '* * * following the mandatory provisions of the Iowa law violates the letter and the spirit of both the United States Constitution and the Constitution of the State of Iowa * * *.'

Brewer originally raised this claim by challenging the petit jury panel. He does not claim nor did he ever claim the jury commissioners in Linn County were in violation of the statute in striking the names of all persons over 65 years of age. Rather Brewer argues the statutory system itself is unconstitutional. But see State v. Edgerton, 100 Iowa 63, 69 N.W. 280 (1896). Brewer cites Beyer v. City of Dubuque, 258 Iowa 476, 139 N.W.2d 428 (1966) for the proposition that petit juries must be drawn from a representative cross section of the community. This principle falls within the general ambit of the fundamental right to a fair and impartial jury. In State v. Knutson, 220 N.W.2d 575, 577 (Iowa 1974) we said:

'A defendant in a criminal prosecution is entitled to an impartial jury. Iowa Const., Art. I, § 10; U.S.Const., Amend. VI. This clause in the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution applies to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment. Withersppon v. Illinois, 391 U.S. 510, 88 S.Ct. 1770, 20 L.Ed.2d 776. If systematic and intentional exclusion of an identifiable eligible group prevents a jury from being representative of the community, a defendant is denied his right to a proper jury. Ballard v. United States, 329 U.S. 187, 67 S.Ct. 261, 91 L.Ed. 181.' See also State v. Williams, 243 N.W.2d 658, 662 (Iowa 1976); State v. King, 225 N.W.2d 337, 341--342 (Iowa 1975); Beyer, supra; 47 Am.Jur.2d, Jury, § 163, pp. 756--757; Wharton's Criminal Procedure, Selection of Trial Jury, § 440, p. 238.

Brewer points to three Iowa statutes which prescribe the scheme for designating petit jury panels. Section 609.1, The Code, requires the jury commission to select three lists of jurors. Section 609.2 directs the commission to omit from such lists the names of various categories of persons. The ninth category is any person '(w)ho has been exempted by law from jury service.'

Section 607.2 lists seven categories of exemptions. The fifth category, the category central to Brewer's challenge, exempts '(p)ersons over sixty-five years of age.' Other categories exempt various public officeholders, professional persons, educators, disabled and infirm persons, firemen, and those opposed to jury service because of their religious faith.

We agree Brewer's argument is strongest with regard to the category exempting persons over 65 years of age. There is no need to separately consider the various other statutory exemptions. If Brewer's argument is not valid with regard to people exempted by reason of being over 65 years of age it is similarly invalid as to all other categories of statutory exemption.

The question becomes whether the exclusion of persons over 65 years of age was an exclusion of an identifiable group which thereby prevented Brewer's jury from being representative of the community. Knutson, supra; Williams, supra; King, supra; Beyer, supra.

The states have authority to determine eligibility requirements of jurors. In Carter v. Greene County, 396 U.S. 320, 332, 90 S.Ct. 518, 525, 24 L.Ed.2d 549, 559 (1970) it is stated:

'* * * It has long been accepted that the Constitution does not forbid the States to prescribe relevant qualifications for their jurors. The States remain free to confine the selection to citizens, to persons meeting specified qualifications of age and educational attainment, and to those possessing good intelligence, sound judgment, and fair character. 'Our duty to protect the federal constitutional rights of all does not mean we must or should impose on states our conception of the proper source of jury lists, so long as the source reasonably reflects a cross-section of the population suitable in character and intelligence for that civic duty.' (Authority).' See also Taylor v. Louisiana, 419 U.S. 522, 95 S.Ct. 692, 42 L.Ed.2d 690 (1975); 50 C.J.S. Juries § 124, pp. 846--847; 47 Am.Jur.2d, Jury, §§ 163--165, pp. 756, 760. The discretion given states in prescribing relevant qualifications for jurors has been described as broad. Taylor, supra, at 720, Williams, supra, at 662. The Iowa provision exempting persons over a specified age from jury duty seems typical:

'* * * Typical statutory provisions as to qualifications of jurors are that one must be a citizen of the United States and a resident of the county, not less than 21 years of age or more than a certain age--such as 65 or 70--in the possession of his natural faculties and not infirm or decrepit, able to read and write the English language, free from all legal exceptions, a fair character, and of approved integrity. * * *.' 47 Am.Jur.2d, Jury, § 100, p. 710. See also 12 C.J.S., Juries, § 124, p. 846, § 138, p. 865; Wharton's Criminal Procedure, Selection of Trial Jury, § 443, p. 247; ABA Standards Relating to Trial by Jury, 2.1.

The United States Supreme Court expressed no criticism of such provisions in Carter, supra, which involved a jury selection statute containing a maximum age provision of 65. The court in Carter quoted with approval from Franklin v. South Carolina, 218 U.S. 161, 30 S.Ct. 640, 54 L.Ed.2d 980 (1909). Franklin also involved a statute containing a maximum age provision of 65. The quotation was as follows:

"We do not think there is anything in this provision of the statute having the effect to deny rights secured by the Federal Constitution. * * * There is nothing in this statute which discriminates against individuals on account of race or color or previous condition, or which subjects such persons to any other or different treatment than other electors who may be qualified to serve as jurors. The statute simply provides for an exercise of judgment in attempting to secure competent jurors of proper qualifications." 396 U.S. at 335, 90 S.Ct. at 526, 24 L.Ed.2d at 560.

The appropriateness of a maximum age limitation turns on whether exemption of persons over 65 is based on some reasonable classification. The reasonableness of such a classification determines the constitutionality of the provision. Beyer, supra, 258 Iowa at 485--486, 139 N.W.2d at 434; 47 Am.Jur.2d, Jury, § 163, p. 757.

We think the classification is reasonable. It fairly balances the right to a fair trial and the varying responsibilities of citizens for jury duty. A fair cross section of the community is left to serve. This view is supported in King v. U.S., 1 Cir., 346 F.2d 123, 124 (1965):

'The * * * election commissioners * * * omitted all persons exempted from jury duty by the * * * statute. (Authority). It omitted, accordingly, persons between the ages of 21 and 25, and over the age of 70, whom the federal statute would have included. (Authority).

'The difference in viewpoint between ages 21 and 25 would not seem to us of any great significance. Nor would there seem to be any substantial effect upon the composition of a jury as a result of eliminating such persons over 70 as might be competent to stand duty. We regard it as highly speculative whether the decisional outlook of such excluded...

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