Anderson v. Alabama

LOCATION: Alabama General Assembly

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1958-1962)
LOWER COURT: State appellate court

CITATION: 366 US 208 (1961)
ARGUED: Apr 25, 1961 / Apr 26, 1961
DECIDED: May 01, 1961

Facts of the case


Media for Anderson v. Alabama

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - April 26, 1961 in Anderson v. Alabama

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - April 25, 1961 in Anderson v. Alabama

Earl Warren:

Number 326, Lewis Lloyd Anderson, Petitioner, versus Alabama.

Mr. Greenberg.

Jack Greenberg:

May it please the Court.

This case is here under Title 28, U.S.C. 1257 (3), petitioner having asserted in the courts below various rights, privileges and immunities conferred by the Constitution of the United States, particularly the right of petitioner, a Negro clergyman, to be indicted and tried by grand and petit juries from which members of his race were not systematically excluded because of race.

Petitioner was indicted for murder in the second degree for an automobile accident.

He was convicted of manslaughter in the first degree and received the maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment.

He applied to the -- he appealed to Alabama Court of Appeals, where he raised the jury question.

It was passed upon, the conviction was affirmed.

He applied to the Supreme Court of Alabama for a writ of certiorari, which was denied and certiorari was granted by this Court.

The evidence in the case is succinct and uncontradicted.

Dallas County, Alabama in which this crime occurred, according to the 1950 census have preponderantly a Negro population, approximately in the ratio of 8 to 7.

I might say that the 1960 census figures are not yet officially available, but an informal inquiry indicates to me that the ratio is now approximately equal with the population being about 6.5 to 6 in favor of white persons. Nevertheless, the -- at all times, the population ratio was approximately 50-50.

Potter Stewart:

This is South Alabama, Mr. Greenberg?

Jack Greenberg:

This is a county.

Yes, it's about two counties West of Montgomery, near the Mississippi border.

Despite the large number of Negro citizens, either a majority or very slightly less than the majority, only once in the entire history of the county has a Negro ever served on a grand jury in this county and this was five years ago, before the present Solicitor took office.

The Solicitor testified on page 12 of the record and this is the heart of the case, how often are grand juries organized in Dallas County?

Answer: twice a year.

Question: And you have attended the organization since 1954?

The answer is, affirmative.

Since that time how many Negroes served on any grand jury in Dallas County?

Answer: None.

Did any serve on the present grand jury?

Answer: They did not.

The testimony concerning the one Negro who served a number of years ago was given by a jury member who testified that at time when he was on a jury, he did see a single Negro on a grand jury at that time.

Now, the court below held that the jury roll in this case, that is the list of names of prospective jurors, was based upon a foundation laid in the case of Fikes versus Alabama.

The jury rolls in Alabama are a continuing document in which names are continuously added and struck, if they become eligible or ineligible.

And that in 1953, according to the record in the Fikes case and we see this discussed on page 71 of this record, there were approximately 1500 names on the jury roll of which 250 to 300 were the names of Negroes.

That is about one-fifth.

Since 1953, names have been added to and dropped from the rolls and according to the testimony of the Chairman of the Jury Commission in this case, the ratio of 1 to 5 has dropped to a ratio of 1 to 12, because the number of Negroes has declined precipitously and this small fraction exists despite the fact that the population was approximately, 50% Negro.