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PETERS V. KIFF, 407 U. S. 493 (1972)

U.S. Supreme Court

Peters v. Kiff, 407 U.S. 493 (1972)

Peters v. Kiff

No. 71-5078

Argued February 22, 1972

Decided June 22, 1972

407 U.S. 493


Petitioner contends in this habeas corpus proceeding that the systematic exclusion of Negroes from the grand jury that indicted him and the petit jury that convicted him deprived him of his rights to due process and equal protection. The Court of Appeals affirmed the District Court's denial of relief on the ground that petitioner, not being a Negro, suffered no unconstitutional discrimination.

Held: The judgment is reversed. Pp. 407 U. S. 495-507.

441 F.2d 370, reversed and remanded.


1. Petitioner, under the circumstances of this case, has not abandoned his challenge to the petit jury by failing to include it in the list of questions presented by the writ of certiorari. Pp. 407 U. S. 495-496.

2. A State cannot, consistent with due process, subject a defendant to indictment by a grand jury or trial by a petit jury that has been selected in an arbitrary and discriminatory manner contrary to federal constitutional and statutory requirements, and regardless of any showing of actual bias, petitioner had standing to attack the systematic exclusion of Negroes from grand jury and petit jury service. Pp. 407 U. S. 496-505.

MR. JUSTICE WHITE, joined by MR. JUSTICE BRENNAN and MR. JUSTICE POWELL, would implement the longstanding and strong policy of 18 U.S.C. § 243 against excluding qualified jurors on account of race by permitting petitioner to challenge his conviction on the ground that Negroes were arbitrarily excluded from the grand jury that indicted him. Hill v. Texas, 316 U. S. 400. Pp. 407 U. S. 505-507.

MARSHALL, J., announced the Court's judgment and delivered an opinion, in which DOUGLAS and STEWART, JJ., joined WHITE, J., filed an opinion concurring in the judgment, in which BRENNAN and POWELL, JJ., joined, post, p. 407 U. S. 505. BURGER, C.J., filed. a dissenting opinion, in which BLACKMUN and REHNQUIST, JJ., joined, post, p. 407 U. S. 507.

Page 407 U. S. 494

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