Swain v. Alabama

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Swain v. Alabama
Seal of the United States Supreme Court.svg
Argued December 8, 1964
Decided March 8, 1965
Full case name Robert Swain v. Alabama
Citations 380 U.S. 202 (more)
Holding
The overall percentage disparity has been small and reflects no studied attempt to include or exclude a specified number of blacks.
Court membership
Case opinions
Majority White
Concurrence Harlan
Concurrence Black
Dissent Goldberg, joined by Warren, Douglas
Overruled by
Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79 (1986)

Swain v. Alabama, 380 U.S. 202 (1965), was a case heard before the Supreme Court of the United States regarding the legality of a struck jury.

Background[edit]

Swain, a black man, was indicted and convicted of rape in the Circuit Court of Talladega County, Alabama, and sentenced to death. The case was appealed to the Supreme Court on the grounds that there were no black jurors. Of eligible jurors in the county, 26% were black, but panels since 1953 averaged 10% to 15% black jurors.

Opinion of the Court[edit]

The Supreme Court denied the appeal, because 8 of 100 empaneled jurors were black, but all were "struck" by peremptory challenges by the prosecution. The ruling for the majority stated, "The overall percentage disparity has been small and reflects no studied attempt to include or exclude a specified number of Negros."

Subsequent developments[edit]

This case recognized the peremptory challenge as a valid legal practice so long as it was not used intentionally to exclude blacks from jury duties. The precedent set in this case was overturned in Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79 (1986).

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Sommers, Samuel R.; Norton, Michael I. (2007). "Race-Based Judgments, Race-Neutral Justifications: Experimental Examination of Peremptory Use and the Batson Challenge Procedure". Law and Human Behavior. 31 (3): 261–273. doi:10.1007/s10979-006-9048-6. PMID 17123158. 

External links[edit]