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EUBANKS V. LOUISIANA, 356 U. S. 584 (1958)

U.S. Supreme Court

Eubanks v. Louisiana, 356 U.S. 584 (1958)

Eubanks v. Louisiana

No. 550

Argued April 30-May 1, 1958

Decided May 26, 1958

356 U.S. 584


Petitioner, a Negro, was indicted by an all-white grand jury in Louisiana for the murder of a white woman. He moved to quash the indictment on the ground that Negroes had been systematically excluded from grand juries in the parish in which he was indicted, including the grand jury which returned the indictment against him. After a hearing, his motion was overruled, and he was tried, convicted and sentenced to death. The State Supreme Court affirmed.

Held: the consistent exclusion of Negroes from grand juries shown by the record in this case denied petitioner the equal protection of the laws guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment, and the judgment is reversed. Pp. 356 U. S. 585-589.

(a) When a jury selection plan, whatever it is, operates in such a way as always to result in the complete and long-continued exclusion of any representative at all from a large group of Negroes, or any other racial group, indictments and verdicts returned against them by juries thus selected cannot stand. Patton v. Mississippi, 332 U. S. 463. P. 356 U. S. 587.

(b) The uniform and long-continued exclusion of Negroes from grand juries shown by the record in this case cannot be attributed to chance, to accident, or to the fact that no sufficiently qualified Negroes have ever been included in the lists submitted to the various local judges for selection as grand jurors, and it seems clear that Negroes have been consistently barred from jury service because of their race. Pp. 356 U. S. 585-588.

(c) Local tradition cannot justify failure to comply with the constitutional mandate requiring equal protection of the laws.

Page 356 U. S. 585

232 La. 289, 94 So.2d 262, reversed, and cause remanded.

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