US v. Rioux

Decision Date17 August 1995
Docket NumberNo. 3:94CR-193 (EBB).,3:94CR-193 (EBB).
Citation930 F. Supp. 1558
PartiesUNITED STATES of America v. Alfred J. RIOUX.
CourtU.S. District Court — District of Connecticut


James A. Wade, Craig A. Raabe, Robinson & Cole, Hartford, CT, for defendant.

Robert M. Appleton, Assistant U.S. Attorney, U.S. Attorney's Office, Bridgeport, CT, Joseph C. Hutchison, Assistant U.S. Attorney, U.S. Attorney's Office, New Haven, CT, John C. Keeney, Nancy J. Newcomb, U.S. Department of Justice, Criminal Division, Public Integrity Section, Washington, D.C., for plaintiff.


ELLEN B. BURNS, Senior District Judge.

Defendant Alfred J. Rioux was indicted on September 22, 1994 for violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1952 (Travel Act) and 18 U.S.C. § 1341 (Mail Fraud). On the morning of jury selection on May 8, 1995, the defendant filed a motion to dismiss the jury pool pursuant to the Fifth and Sixth Amendments and the Jury Service and Selection Act of 1967, 28 U.S.C. § 1861 et seq. The court scheduled an evidentiary hearing on the motion for May 10, 1995 and proceeded with jury selection on May 8, 1995. The evidence at the hearing on May 10, 1995, continued on May 12, 1995 and May 17, 1995, included various exhibits and the testimony of Clerk of the Court Kevin Rowe.

Following the hearing, the defendant filed an amended motion to dismiss the indictment or, alternatively, the jury. After considering the evidence presented at the hearing and the briefs and supplemental briefs of the defendant and the government, the court denied the amended motion. Doc. No. 66.


After an evidentiary hearing, the court makes the following factual findings with respect to the jury selection process for the New Haven division of the District of Connecticut.

I. The Selection Process

The district judges of the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut adopted the Second Restated Plan for Random Selection of Grand and Petit Jurors Pursuant to the Jury Selection and Service Act of 1968 (hereinafter "the Plan") on November 23, 1992. (Def. Exh. A (SECOND RESTATED PLAN FOR RANDOM SELECTION OF GRAND AND PETIT JURORS PURSUANT TO THE JURY SELECTION AND SERVICE ACT) (AS AMENDED)). The Plan became operational on October 1, 1993. (Def. Exh. M at 5 (Magistrate Judge's Report, November 1993)).

Pursuant to the Plan, the district created a "master wheel" from the motor vehicle operators list and registered voters list of each of the political subdivisions within the district.1 More specifically, Clerk Rowe sent a letter to the registrar of voters for each of the 169 political subdivisions within the judicial district, requesting four percent of the names on the voter registration list or, if such were not within the technical capabilities of a given registrar, the entire list. The letter included specific instructions for random selection of four percent of the names on the list, as well as the proper format for a computer-generated list. Clerk Rowe required each registrar of voters to certify in writing that the registrar complied with the procedures outlined in the letter. (Testimony of Clerk Rowe; Def. Exh. K (Magistrate Judge's Report, May 1993)).

Each registrar of voters provided Clerk Rowe with a certified list of voters.2 If a registrar of voters returned an entire list, the Clerk's Office randomly selected four percent of the names on the list in accordance with the instructions contained in the letter. If a registrar of voters returned only four percent of the list, the entire return was included in the master wheel. Clerk Rowe forwarded all data to the General Services Administration in New York (hereinafter "GSA") where the master wheel was created and maintained. (Testimony of Clerk Rowe).

Clerk Rowe also sent a letter and blank computer tapes to the Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles (hereinafter "DMV"), requesting its latest list of licensed motor vehicle operators. The DMV returned five tapes containing 2,347,558 names to Clerk Rowe.3 Clerk Rowe forwarded the tapes to the GSA with instructions to select, at random, four percent of the names on the list. The GSA certified that it selected the four percent in accordance with Clerk Rowe's instructions and included the selected names on the master wheel. (Def. Exh. K at 4).

These lists comprised the sole source of names for the master wheel, completed as of May 11, 1993. (Def. Exh K. at 6).4 The names generated by this exercise were then sorted by division: Hartford, New Haven and Bridgeport. Thus, the master wheel was subdivided into three master wheels: the Hartford master wheel, New Haven master wheel, and Bridgeport master wheel.

The GSA then randomly selected several thousand names from the New Haven master wheel in accordance with procedures provided by Clerk Rowe. (Def. Exh. M at 4). The GSA forwarded juror questionnaires to these individuals with instructions to return the completed questionnaire to the Clerk of the Court within ten days. When the questionnaires were returned, the "jury clerk" reviewed each questionnaire and divided them into three categories: qualified, unqualified5 and uncertain. A magistrate or district judge sitting in the New Haven division then reviewed the questionnaires for a final determination of qualification.

Questionnaires that were returned to the Clerk by the United States Postal Service as "undeliverable" were mailed a second time, to a new address if such address was available or to the same address if a new address was not available. If they were returned again, they were retained in storage and included on a list of "undeliverables" categorized by community and quantity.

The court excused those who were unqualified from jury duty. The jury clerk then entered the data from the qualified questionnaires onto a computer database maintained in the Clerk's Office in New Haven.6 These individuals formed the "qualified wheel," the source of prospective jurors for all grand and petit juries called within the New Haven division.7

As the pool of prospective jurors from the qualified wheel diminished, either because jurors' terms of service had expired or jurors had relocated or were disqualified or excused,8 the Clerk of the Court ordered the GSA to mail additional questionnaires to a number of individuals randomly selected from the New Haven master wheel. The Clerk's Office completed the same process of qualification with these individuals. Thus, the qualified wheel does not remain constant or static, but, rather, fluctuates with a gradual qualification process.

II. The New Haven Qualified Wheel

Between October 1, 1993, the time the amended Plan took effect, and May 5, 1995, the GSA mailed approximately 11,000 questionnaires to individuals in the New Haven master wheel. Approximately 13.7%, or 1516 questionnaires, were returned to the Clerk's Office marked as "undeliverable."9

From these 11,000 questionnaires, the court has qualified 4,722 individuals for jury service. Of the 4,722 individuals who have qualified for jury service, 5.6% are African American and 2.3% are Hispanic. (See Def. Exh. E) (analysis of racial composition of qualified wheel (and subtract "unknowns" from total)).10

On April 12, 1995, the date that Mr. Rioux's venire was randomly selected from the qualified wheel, there were 1,554 individuals qualified for jury service and available for selection of Mr. Rioux's venire. (Def. Exh. X (analysis of racial composition of qualified wheel on April 12, 1995)). Of these 1,554 individuals, 4.35% were African American and 1.625% were Hispanic. (See Def. Exh. X (and subtract "unknowns" from total)).

The 1990 United States Census data indicates that 7.08% of the voting-age population in the New Haven division is African American and 4.24% is Hispanic. (See Def. Exh. M at n. 2 and attachment).

III. Oversight

After adopting the Plan in 1992, the district judges appointed a magistrate judge and an oversight committee to monitor the jury selection process in the district. The magistrate judge provided regular and detailed reports to then-Chief Judge Cabranes. (See Def. Exhs. K-R (Magistrate's Reports)).

In her November 1993 and April 1994 reports, Magistrate Judge Margolis addressed the representation of minorities, particularly Hispanics, in the qualified wheel and identified potential causes of, and remedies for, any unacceptable underrepresentation. (Def.Exhs. M, P). More specifically, she noted that the district "continues to lose significant numbers of Hispanics through disqualification, which includes lack of citizenship, lack of fluency in English,11 and illiteracy." (Exh. P at 7). In the New Haven division, for example, the disqualification rate for Hispanics was 30.1%, versus 7.6% for whites and 6.3% for African-Americans. (Exh. P at 8).

The magistrate judge also made recommendations to remedy any perceived underrepresentation:

The Second Jury Plan could be amended to include the following additional efforts: (1) increasing the number of questionnaires sent from the three municipalities in the New Haven division with more than 20% minority population, if such city is substantially underrepresented; (2) sending a third notice, perhaps from a judicial officer, if a potential juror fails to respond to the first two notices; (3) increasing the number of questionnaires if the non-responsive rate exceeds a designated percentage; (4) increasing the number of questionnaires if the undeliverable rate exceeds a designated percentage; and (5) increasing the number of questionnaires if the total number of disqualified, exempt, and excused jurors exceeds a designated percentage.

(Exh. M at 11-12). However, the magistrate judge was suddenly taken ill shortly after her last report in June of 1994. She did not return from a leave of absence until June of 1995.

I. The Sixth Amendment

The Sixth Amendment guarantees the accused in a criminal prosecution a trial by an...

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    • March 19, 2003 duty to offset the effects on the jury selection system of individual patterns of behavior occurring externally to the system. As the Rioux district court noted, "The underrepresentation complained of by the defendant is not 'due' to any element of the jury selection system . . . . Rathe......
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