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THOMAS V. TEXAS, 212 U. S. 278 (1909)

U.S. Supreme Court

Thomas v. Texas, 212 U.S. 278 (1909)

Thomas v. Texas

No. 6

Argued November 8, 1908

Decided February 23, 1909

212 U.S. 278


Where neither the constitutionality of the state statute nor the interpretation thereof by the state court is assailed, but the contention is that negroes were excluded from the juries because of their race or color, the question is one of fact, and the decision of the state court is not reviewable by this Court under 709, Rev.Stat., in the absence of such gross abuse as to amount to denial of due process of law.

Discrimination against the accused in the selection of the grand or petit jury cannot be presumed from the mere fact that none of the jurors were negroes or of African decent, and here it appears that a negro was on the grand jury finding the indictment and negroes were on the venire from which the trial jury was drawn, and nothing in the record indicates discrimination.

95 S.W. 1069 affirmed.

Thomas was convicted of the murder of John Blair, and his punishment fixed at death. Before arraignment and trial, he filed his separate motions to quash the indictment and special venire drawn in this cause, which motions were sworn to, and alleged that,

"because of the race prejudice and ill feeling against the negroes in Harris County and against this defendant in particular on account of his color and race, and because of the sentiment against placing negroes or persons of color or of African descent upon the grand juries and petit juries in said county . . . , the grand jury finding and returning the bill of indictment against him herein was composed almost exclusively of white persons, there being not to exceed one negro or person of African descent and of the same race and color of this defendant upon said grand jury."

It was also alleged that,

"because of the race prejudice and ill feeling existing against

Page 212 U. S. 279

the negroes or persons of African descent in Harris County, and against this defendant in particular, on account of his color and race, there were no negroes or persons of African descent upon the venire list of persons drawn to serve as jurors in this cause, and that the list of jurors drawn was composed exclusively of white persons, all negroes or persons of African descent having been intentionally excluded and left off of the special venire or list of jurors drawn in this cause by the jury commission, because of their race and color."

It was further alleged that one-fourth of the qualified jurors of Harris County were negroes or persons of African descent. By agreement and consent of the court, evidence was heard upon the two motions at the same time, and considered by the court upon each, the same as if said motions had been heard separately.

Upon considering the evidence on the hearing of said motions, the same were each overruled by the court.

The case was taken on writ of error to the court of criminal appeals, the highest court of Texas for criminal cases, and the conviction affirmed. The action of the trial court in overruling the motions to quash was reviewed by the court of criminal, appeals and the rulings sustained. 95 S.W. 1069. It was then brought here on writ of error.

Page 212 U. S. 280

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