BALLEW v. GEORGIA

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Case Basics
Docket No. 
76-761
Petitioner 
Ballew
Respondent 
Georgia
Tags
Term:
Facts of the Case 

Ballew was found in violation of a misdemeanor for exhibiting an obscene motion picture film. In the Criminal Court of Fulton County, a jury of five persons was selected and sworn to hear the case.

Question 

Does a state criminal trial by a jury of only five persons deprive the accused of the right to a trial by jury as protected by the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments?

Conclusion 
Decision: 9 votes for Ballew, 0 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Right to Trial By Jury

Yes. The Court found that a trial by jury of less than six members violated the accused's right to a trial by jury as protected by the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments. Justice Blackmun reasoned that small juries foster poor group deliberation. Group memory of the details of testimony, the ease with which group compromises can be made, and the desire of the group to be self- critical and reflective are all hindered as the size of the jury decreases. Blackmun also relied on statistical studies to claim that the risk of jury error increased with smaller juries.

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BALLEW v. GEORGIA. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 20 June 2014. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/1970-1979/1977/1977_76_761/>.
BALLEW v. GEORGIA, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1970-1979/1977/1977_76_761/ (last visited June 20, 2014).
"BALLEW v. GEORGIA," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed June 20, 2014, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1970-1979/1977/1977_76_761/.