The major issue presented in this appeal is whether the trial judge erred when he refused to grant a defense motion to quash the selected jury panel based upon the prosecution's systematic exclusion of blacks from this jury and prior petit juries.
Defendant, Andrew K. Brown, was found guilty of attempted manslaughter, guilty of possession of a firearm after having been convicted of a felony and guilty of carrying a concealed weapon after having been convicted of a felony; the jury returned a not guilty verdict in connection with a charge of attempted murder. The charges arose out of Brown's possession and use of a gun on October 26, 1976, when he allegedly fired numerous shots, striking a woman with whom he had formerly lived and her female companion. Brown was sentenced as an habitual offender to prison terms of ten years, five years and ten years respectively, the latter two sentences to be served without benefit of parole, probation or suspension of sentence (as prescribed by R.S. 14:95.1); all the sentences were ordered to run consecutively.
Another Baton Rouge attorney testified it appeared to him that in recent cases he had tried against Mr. Roy that blacks were often peremptorily challenged. He could not recall Mr. Roy exercising peremptory challenges against whites in recent cases. In his last trial against Mr. Roy involving a black defendant, there were no blacks on the jury although there were blacks on the venire; Mr. Roy exercised peremptory challenges against the blacks. In another recent trial in which this witness participated which involved a white defendant, this same prosecutor also exercised his peremptory challenges against blacks in the venire with the result that no blacks served on the jury. The attorney testified that he did not exercise peremptory challenges against blacks in either trial. Asked if he had any opinion with respect to Mr. Roy's exclusion of blacks from the jury the attorney responded, ". . . [M]y opinion would be that . . . it's systematic exclusion."
After a short cross-examination of this attorney by the prosecutor the court noted that the last jury trial before it was a negligent homicide case in which both defendant and victim were black and that on the six person jury two blacks had served. The assistant district attorney in that case, however, was not the same as in the case at bar. Later in the course of the trial, while the jury was deliberating, further evidence regarding the composition of other East Baton Rouge Parish juries was furnished defendant's counsel by the trial judge and read into the record. In one case, involving the trial of one Elijah Pickett before a six member jury, three blacks and three whites, the prosecution was conducted by Mr. Roy. There is no record indication of the nature of the case, the race of the defendant or other particulars. Further information furnished involved the Washington case to which this opinion has previously alluded and the previously noted negligent homicide case tried by a six person jury including two blacks in which the state was represented by a different prosecutor. The prosecutor, Mr. Roy, did not testify in this case, nor did he make any statement for the record concerning whether he had been accustomed to systematically excluding blacks from the petit jury panels.
The foregoing fully summarizes the record in the instant case. However, also pertinent to this issue are the facts noted in a concurrence to State v. Haynes, 339 So.2d 328 (La.1976). In that case, decided on November 8, 1976, we affirmed a conviction wherein a complaint was made of systematic exclusion of blacks from the petit jury through the use of peremptory challenges
Three of the seven cases to which the foregoing portion of the concurring opinion in Haynes alluded were tried by the same prosecutor involved in this case. Since that decision in Haynes, we have reviewed no less than four East Baton Rouge Parish convictions involving this issue
The majority of this Court has held that a defendant is not denied equal protection when the state uses peremptory challenges to exclude blacks unless there is a systematic exclusion over a period of time; we impose upon the defendant the burden of establishing a prima facie showing of such exclusion. Once a defendant has done so, the state bears the burden of showing that there was no discrimination. State v. Bias, 354 So.2d 1330 (La.1978). In Bias, the Court noted its adherence to the test announced in Swain v. Alabama, 380 U.S. 202, 85 S.Ct. 824, 13 L.Ed.2d 959 (1965) in determining whether there was a systematic exclusion. In Swain, the United States Supreme Court held that a showing by the defense that peremptory challenges were used to exclude members of a minority in a particular case is not sufficient to establish a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause. However, where defendant can show a systematic exclusion of the minority by the state over a period of time through its use of peremptory challenges a constitutional question is presented. Swain implies that defendant must demonstrate that the prosecutor continually and consciously uses peremptory challenges to exclude blacks because of their race, requiring that the record show "with [some] acceptable degree of clarity . . . when, how often, and under what circumstances the prosecutor alone has been responsible for striking [the minority]." 380 U.S. at 224, 85 S.Ct. at 838.
Heretofore, less than a majority of this Court has subscribed to views expressed by Justice Dennis in his concurrence in State v. Eames, 365 So.2d 1361 (La. 1979),
We need not decide whether the concurrence in State v. Eames is fully correct nor whether the standards set forth in that concurrence (see footnote four), should be adopted, for here simply under the test set forth in our jurisprudence, especially State v. Bias, supra, we determine that defendant has made a showing sufficient to establish prima facie discrimination in the state's exercise of its peremptory challenges. More than a bare showing of prosecutorial use of a disproportionate number of challenges against blacks or an elimination of a disproportionate number of blacks considering their number in the venire has been made in this case. There has been shown in connection with this prosecutor's use of peremptory challenges a systematic exclusion, a continual and conscious rejection of blacks. Therefore, under the procedure recognized in Bias, the burden shifted to the state to show that no discrimination simply because of race was practiced. The prosecutor made no such showing. The state therefore failed to carry its burden of proof in this regard.
For these reasons, we conclude that the defense motion to quash the jury panel based upon this prosecutor's systematic exclusion of blacks from petit juries should in this case have been sustained. Having found reversible error in defendant's assignment of error number six, we find it unnecessary to consider the remaining assignments of error.
For the foregoing reasons, the convictions and sentences of the defendant are reversed and set aside and the case is remanded for a new trial.
CONVICTIONS AND SENTENCES REVERSED; NEW TRIAL ORDERED.
MARCUS and BLANCHE, JJ., dissent and assign reasons.
MARCUS, Justice (dissenting).
I do not consider that the defendant has established a prima facie showing of systematic exclusion of blacks by the use of
BLANCHE, Justice, dissenting.
I dissent for the same reasons handed down by Justice Marcus in his dissent.