Arnold v. North Carolina

RESPONDENT: North Carolina
LOCATION: New York Supreme Court Appellate Division, First Department

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1962-1965)

CITATION: 376 US 773 (1964)
ARGUED: Mar 26, 1964
DECIDED: Apr 06, 1964

Facts of the case


Media for Arnold v. North Carolina

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - March 26, 1964 in Arnold v. North Carolina

Earl Warren:

Number 572, Jesse James Arnold and George Dixon, Petitioners, versus North Carolina.

Mr. Turner.

J. Harvey Turner:

Mr. Chief Justice, Members of the Court.

I represent the defendant Arnold, having been appointed in the Trial Court below, Arnold who is a member of the Negro race.

The case he is here on certiorari because the North Carolina Supreme Court which affirmed a conviction of these two defendants for murder perpetrated in a robbery.

In due course, in the Trial Court, each defendant made timely motions to quash the indictment on the basis that member of their race had been systemically excluded from jury duty in the county.

These motions were overruled.

In the Supreme Court of North Carolina the Trail Court was sustained in that and it was held that we had failed to carry the burden of showing systematic exclusion.

In the Trial Court, we called two witnesses.

We called the county tax supervisor, Mr. Williams and he testified as to his records, tax abstracts and listings of full tax which were kept separately and as he said it would required to be kept separate as to White and member of the Negro race, required by law.

But under his figures as to his tax abstracts, approximately 39% of the population of Lenoir County is comprised of member of the Negro race.

We then turned to the clerk of the Superior Court, the Trial Court, the Court in which these defendants were tried and he said -- he testified that he had been clerk of that Court for 24 years and during that time one member of the Negro race had served or I believe the word he used, has served, he was not serving at the time these two defendants petitioners were indicted and tried.

We think the question presented is -- boils down to simple question as to whether or not we carried the burden of proof of showing systematic exclusion of member of the Negro race from jury duty in Lenoir County, and we think we have without any question.

And under numerous decisions of this Court, Eubanks and Hernandez case in particular, there are other cases, Hill against Texas and Smith against Texas.

In the Hill against Texas case were 50,000 white persons, 8,000 Negros, if they pooled tax in Dallas County.

In a period of 16 years no Negro had served on the Grand Jury of that county.

The Court held that the petitioner made out a prima facie case of systematic exclusion.

In Smith against Texas, petitioner showed 20% of the population was made up of Negros, 10% of the poll tax payers were Negros and from 1931 to 1938 there were 384 Grand Juries, out of which only five were Negros.

There were 3,000 to 6,000 Negros qualified for Grand Jury service in Harris County.

The Court says Chancellor Eisner alone could hardly have brought about the listing for Grand Jury service of so few Negros.

As I say the question is simple, we think we have carried the burden of proof and we introduced the evidence we did in support of our motion, we think the burden then shifted to the state.

The state introduced no evidence whatsoever to refute the evidence we had put in as to the composition of the people, tax rolls of Lenoir County.

Arthur J. Goldberg:


J. Harvey Turner:

I would say that would have no difference whatsoever sir.

We could have brought the box in, but as it is handled in our county, our Board of County commission's the Governing Body, selects those people who are to serve on the jury, jury duty for up coming terms of Court.

And I might say I recall the particular time when this one Negro served on Grand Jury and that was approximately, it was about seven or eight years ago from that.

They just have not had it.

We -- as the clerk testified usually for a term of Court we have about 35, possibly 40 jurors selected for a week's term of Court.

And on numerous terms of Court we had no Negros whatsoever on the petit jury.

Sometimes we have one, two or three.