Anderson v. Johnson

LOCATION: New Kent County School Board

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1967-1969)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

CITATION: 390 US 456 (1968)
ARGUED: Mar 06, 1968
DECIDED: Mar 25, 1968

Facts of the case


Media for Anderson v. Johnson

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - March 06, 1968 in Anderson v. Johnson

Earl Warren:

Number 700, Brooks Lee Anderson, petitioner, versus Wilburn C. Johnson, warden.

Mr. Reed.

J. Brad Reed:

Mr. Chief Justice, may it please the Court.

The petitioner in this case is a Negro.

The petitioner was indicted, tried and convicted in Maury County, Tennessee in 1949 for the offense of rape.

He contends in this case that Negroes were systematically excluded from the grand jury which indicted him and from the petty jury which tried and convicted him.

The salient facts in the case are wholly undisputed.

The census reports from Maury County were introduced into evidence in the District Court.

They showed that in excess of 20% of the total population of Maury County, at all relevant times, were Negro.

The proof also showed without dispute that prior to and including the time of petitioner's indictment, trial and conviction, no Negro, none whatever had ever served on any grand or petty jury in Maury County.

There's absolutely no question and I would hardly even think it necessary to mention it if it not for the fact that the District Court held otherwise that these two items make out a prima facie case of systematic exclusion showing a substantial percentage of the population to be Negro and showing an absolute failure of service at any time on the part of Negroes.

As stated, the District Court nevertheless held that petitioner had failed to make out a prima facie case.

What year is his conviction?

J. Brad Reed:

His conviction was in 1949, Your Honor.

His habeas corpus hearing in the Federal District Court was in 1964.

The case of Norris versus Alabama I think is completely determinative of this point of the prima facie case.

The case quite somewhat similar in all respects except the percentage of Negroes in Jackson County, Alabama was much, much smaller.

This is 294 U.S. 590 showing about 8% of the population to be Negro, on 591 showing that there had never been any service by Negroes on grand or petty jury and the court then states that testimony in itself made out a prima facie case of the denial of the equal protection which the Constitution guarantees.

This might be irrelevant but what is the estimation in 15 years lapsed with his conviction with respect to the federal habeas corpus?

J. Brad Reed:

Your Honor, I have no explanation for it.

I was appointed to represent the petitioner for the first time by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.

I -- I have no idea why the petition was not filed earlier.

Earl Warren:

Is there any background in the state courts that would point toward the reason?

There must have been some -- some indication of when the first attack is conviction in the state courts other than on appeal, if you did appeal.

J. Brad Reed:

There was no appeal.

I'm not advised, Your Honor, as to when the habeas corpus proceeding in the State Court on this basis.

Mr. Davies informed me that it was in 1962.

I have an idea as to perhaps why the challenge was not previously made.

Of course, it was around that time that habeas corpus became -- that the use of the writ became prevalent and it kind of enters throughout the country.

Also, Mr. Davies relies heavily, and I will attempt to show that his reliance is misplaced on a Tennessee Supreme Court decision concerning a prior conviction in Maury County some two years prior to the -- I suppose three years prior to the petitioner's indictment and conviction in which the question of systematic exclusion was raised, proof was taken and the Court held that systematic exclusion had not been proved.