Eubanks v. Louisiana

LOCATION: Hazlehurst Manufacturing Company

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1957-1958)

CITATION: 356 US 584 (1958)
ARGUED: Apr 30, 1958 / May 01, 1958
DECIDED: May 26, 1958

Facts of the case


Media for Eubanks v. Louisiana

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - April 30, 1958 in Eubanks v. Louisiana

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - May 01, 1958 in Eubanks v. Louisiana

Earl Warren:

Number 550 -- State of Louisiana.

Mr. Culligan.

Michael E. Culligan:

Good morning Your Honors.

Mr. Chief Justice, Associate Justices of the Court, before presenting argument on behalf of the State of Louisiana, permit me to first express the best wishes of our Attorney General, Jack Gremillion on his request to also thank Your Honors again because of the consideration which Your Honors extended to him on his last argument in this Court.

Again, I am very honored and privileged to address Your Honors today on Law Day.

This case is typical exactly of what Mr. Justice Clark said this morning in his telecast.

This is an unfortunate defendant of the colored race without funds here before Your Honors in forma pauperis with both the record and the brief being paid for -- by the United States Government.

His attorney being appointed by the State of Louisiana, former Assistant District Attorney, a high-minded, high-spirited young man of our city who is now the Assistant City Attorney of the City of New Orleans whose expenses are being paid, travel expenses by the City of New Orleans.

In order to properly present this case, I think I should inform Your Honors this case concerns only the jury system in the Parish of Orleans.

The case is properly stated by Mr. Garon yesterday.

It comes before Your Honors on a writ of certiorari from Louisiana Supreme Court, the petitioner having been charged of the crime of murder, being a young college youth, and the victim in the case, being a white woman of the age of the approximately 70.

The alleged motive being burglary and according to his counsel and his brief before for the Louisiana Supreme Court, she was brutally hacked to death by both blunt and sharp instruments and finally killed.

His defense in the lower court simply being that he attempted to burglarize the place but denied any knowledge of the murder itself.

There are no constitutional questions involved before this Court at this time, except that of an alleged discrimination before the grand juries in the Parish of Orleans.

Mr. Justice Whittaker, yesterday morning, asked if there was specific specification of error by Mr. Eubanks' counsel and my desire to inform Justice Whittaker that on page 37 of the record, Mr. Garon in his motion, of course, does refer to a violation of both the Louisiana Constitution and the Fourteenth Amendment of the Federal Constitution.

He further particularized in his brief, before the Louisiana Supreme Court in its specification of errors that it was a violation of not -- not only the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution but also a violation of Article 1, Section 2 of the Louisiana Constitution and of the Congressional Act of 1875 making in defense for anyone to deliberately, purposely exclude any person on account of race or color.

The Parish of Orleans which is the only parish in our State that has a different jury selection system consists purely and simply of the City of New Orleans.

The territorial limits of the Parish of Orleans and the territorial limits of the City of New Orleans are one and the same.

Again, the Parish of Orleans differs entirely from the other parishes of the State.Our District judges in the Parish of Orleans are divided into a civil bench and a criminal bench.

In other words, in the other parishes, the District judge is the same as the United States District Court judges, handle all types of law.

Whereas, in the Parish of Orleans, the Criminal District Court is strictly a court exclusively of criminal jurisdiction, whereas, the civil court is civil and probate jurisdiction.

Again, on a selection of the very jury commission itself and the parishes other than Orleans, the jury commission is appointed and selected by the District judge, the clerk of court being the ex officio Chairman of the Commission which is somewhat similar, if not entirely similar as to the juries as far as the United States Courts are concerned.

In the Parish of Orleans, the jury commission is not selected by the District judge.The jury commission is appointed for a term of four years by the Governor or during or at the pleasure of Governor.

In the parishes, the jury commission says at the pleasure of the District judge who has appointed him.

Again, to draw distinctions and I'm doing this, sir, because, the cases become -- that have come before Your Honors have never arisen out of the Parish of Orleans.

There is no case ever in this Court from the Parish of Orleans on this particular subject matter.

The number of names that go into the -- what we call the jury wheel or the general venire is different, 300 in the country parishes minimum, 750 minimum in the City of New Orleans.

The selection of the grand jury again is different in the country parishes than it is in the City of New Orleans.

In the country parishes out of the 300 names that are in the general venire, 20 names are selected by the jury commission and placed in an envelope.

It is sealed and then from that envelope -- I've gone a little ahead of myself The names of those 20 are placed on a list.