BERGHUIS v. SMITH
A Michigan state court convicted Diapolis Smith of second degree murder and felony possession of a firearm and sentenced him to life in prison. After exhausting his remedies in the Michigan state courts, Smith petitioned for habeas corpus relief in a Michigan federal district court. The district court denied the petition. On appeal, Smith argued that he was denied an impartial jury from a fair cross-section of the community in violation of the Sixth Amendment.
The Sixth Circuit held that the Michigan Supreme Court unreasonably applied federal law in concluding that county jury selection "worked no systematic exclusion." The Court reasoned the state trial court's policy of excusing potential jurors for whom jury duty would constitute hardship based on child care concerns or transportation issues, when viewed together with another policy that assigned prospective jurors from the county's only large city, established a prima facie case of systematic under-representation of African- American jurors.
Did the Sixth Circuit err in holding that the Michigan Supreme Court failed to apply clearly established U.S. Supreme Court precedent for evaluating whether the jury was comprised of a fair cross-section of the community?
Legal provision: Sixth Amendment: Jury Trial
Yes. The Supreme Court held that the Sixth Circuit erred in ruling that the Michigan Supreme Court's decision "involved an unreasonable application of clearly established federal law." With Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg writing for a unanimous Supreme Court, it reasoned that Duren v. Missouri did not establish that Mr. Smith was denied his Sixth Amendment right to an impartial jury. While the Duren defendant established an absolute disparity, comparative disparity, and standard deviation of underrepresentation of women, that case did not specify the method courts must use to measure underrepresentation. Here, Mr. Smith did not provide sufficient evidence to prove that the trial court's policies had any significant effect on the underrepresentation of African-American jurors in the area.
Justice Clarence Thomas wrote separately, concurring. He challenged the Court to reconsider that the Sixth Amendment guarantees a defendant the right to a jury that represents "a fair cross section" of the community. Instead, he proposed that the right stems more from an "amalgamation of the Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause."
ORAL ARGUMENT OF B. ERIC RESTUCCIA ON BEHALF OF THE PETITIONER
Chief Justice John G. Roberts: We'll hear argument first this morning in Case 08-1402, Berghuis v. Smith.
Mr. Restuccia: Mr. Chief Justice, and may it please the Court: This is really a case about the law of habeas corpus for this murder conviction that was obtained in the Michigan courts.
The issue was whether the Michigan Supreme Court unreasonably applied clearly established Supreme Court precedent in rejecting Mr. Smith's claim that his jury was not drawn from a fair cross-section of the community.
The Michigan Supreme Court did not act unreasonably in concluding that there was no unconstitutional underrepresentation and that there was no systematic exclusion.
This Court's decision in Duren did not require a different result on either point, and this Court should reverse the Sixth Circuit.
I think it's important to note that there are two prongs at issue: The fair and reasonable representation prong and the systematic exclusion prong.
And it's also significant to understand that the disparities at issue here are relatively small, that the time period at issue runs from -- from April of 1993 to October of 1993, where there was information -- for those 6 months for which the processes at play were measured.
And the percentage of African-Americans that appeared in the venires during that time period was -- they comprised 6 percent of the venires, where the jury-eligible population was 7.28 percent.
So your -- so there was a 1.28 percent absolute disparity during this 6-month time period.
That can also be measured as an 18 percent comparative disparity.
Now, if you compare that to the disparities that are issue -- at issue in Duren, they really are a magnitude of difference, that the disparities in Duren involve the exclusion of women in Missouri, where they comprised -- women comprised 54 percent of the population and only 14.5 percent of the venires over an 8-month period of time.
Justice Stephen G. Breyer: The -- I don't know if this is relevant or how to use it, but years ago, I took a course in this kind of thing at the Kennedy School.
I was teaching, and they said the only way you could figure out what -- what's what here is you use something called 1,000 balls, and 60 of them are red, and 940 are black, and then you select them at random, and -- and 12 at a time.
You know, fill 12 -- fill a hundred with 12 in each.
And when we tried to do that, just for the interest of it, I -- I found that you would expect, with these numbers, something like a third to a half of juries would have at least one black person on it.
Now, that may be wrong, because I am not a mathematician, but -- but putting that together, it looks as if there is a pretty big disparity.
Mr. Restuccia: Well--
Justice Stephen G. Breyer: On the other hand, that isn't what they testified to, so I guess you're going to tell me just ignore it and forget it.
Mr. Restuccia: --Well, if you're looking at the Michigan Supreme Court decision, I think it's important to note that it's not just that it would have to be incorrect; it would have to be objectively unreasonable under the AEDPA standard, that what's at issue here is did the Michigan Supreme Court unreasonably apply--
Justice Stephen G. Breyer: Well, you know, maybe it's the only way to do it, that the statistician stays with these urns, which I guess they have computer programs for.
Mr. Restuccia: --Well--
Justice Stephen G. Breyer: I -- I don't know, in other words, and maybe I should just -- I hate to write something, like, saying 2 and 2 is 6.
Justice Antonin Scalia: But we don't have any urns here.
Justice Stephen G. Breyer: No.
You can skip it, if you want.
If there's any comment, fine.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: I think your point was that Duren was quite different in the numbers--
Mr. Restuccia: --Yes.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: --starting out with women 54 percent of the population, and then dwindled to 14.5 percent of the -- of the jurors, available jurors.
Mr. Restuccia: Yes, Your Honor.
Chief Justice John G. Roberts: I guess the point is, just following up, it's not that you're going to say 2 plus 2 is 6.
I suppose, under AEDPA, all you have to do is say 2 plus 2 is somewhere between 3 and 5, right?
Mr. Restuccia: Right.
That it's not unreasonable, and I think the best evidence of the fact that this decision was not unreasonable is I -- in the blue brief, I put together a table of what the other circuits have done with comparable statistical disparities.
And it runs -- from the First Circuit through the Tenth Circuit, I have seven circuits' worth of opinions, and of course, there really are additional cases, if you examine this.
And if you look at the kinds of disparities that have been examined by other courts on--
Justice John Paul Stevens: May I interrupt with this question that goes both to what Justice Ginsburg asked and the other?
Should we treat all areas the same, depending -- say it's -- the disparity between a jurisdiction which has only 3 or 4 percent of a minority should be treated similarly to a jurisdiction where they have 30 or 40 percent?
Mr. Restuccia: --Well, the -- in my view, this Court really didn't provide guidance in Duren about how this should be measured.
In fact, Duren doesn't specify what kind of measurement tools should be used for examining disparity.
Justice John Paul Stevens: But isn't it perfectly obvious that you're going to have dramatic differences where you only have a very small percentage, as in -- in Grand Rapids, for example, and where you have a major percentage as you did in Duren.
Mr. Restuccia: Well, I think that's right.
And that's one of the reasons that on direct review the courts are virtually unanimous in rejecting these kinds of small disparities.
So if you look at the table on pages 32 and 33, the circuits, on direct review, that were most comparable were the Second Circuit decision in which the percentage of the distinct group in the community was 7.08 percent and in the jury pool it was 5.0 percent--
Justice Anthony Kennedy: But -- but I suppose the thrust of Justice Stevens's question was that if you have a very small population that we are concerned with, then the disparity can be very substantial, especially if you use the comparative disparity.
Mr. Restuccia: --That's right.
Justice Anthony Kennedy: And I think -- at least, I was interested in that aspect of his question.
Mr. Restuccia: --Well, as kind of the first matter, it seems like this Court doesn't have to really reach that hard question, insofar as the Michigan Supreme Court's decision is entitled to deference under AEDPA, meaning--
Justice Anthony Kennedy: Yes, but we have a halfhour.
I'd kind of like to know how to--
Mr. Restuccia: --Okay.
No, I understand.
I just want to make that as kind of a first point.
Now, for the second point, it seems to me that the absolute disparity test is the better measure for examining -- examining these questions.
And the reason for that is that it objectively captures the number of missing jurors that are part of the venire, whereas the--
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: But you -- but your test is 10 percent.
And if you have a minority, what is it here?
7 point -- whatever it is.
Mr. Restuccia: --7.28.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: --It's under 10 percent.
That would mean that a district is free to just disregard all the people who are under 10 percent of the population.
Mr. Restuccia: The 10 percent test is not really necessarily tied to the absolute disparity.
In other words, this Court could conclude that the absolute disparity test is the better test without using that 10 percent threshold.
The reason I suggest the 10 percent threshold is that's really what's happening on the ground in the Federal courts.
It's very hard to find a case in which there's a--
Justice Sonia Sotomayor: You would suggest that in a population that has 9 percent of any group, protected group, that if they didn't have one person serve on a jury per year of that group, that that would not -- under an absolute disparity test using the 10 percent figure, that would not give rise to any kind of suspicion?
Mr. Restuccia: --That's right.
Under -- if this Court adopted it--
Justice Sonia Sotomayor: It would not meet the Duren's second prong.
Mr. Restuccia: --That's right.
If the Court--
Justice Sonia Sotomayor: Does that make any sense to you?
Mr. Restuccia: --It reflects the actual practice of the courts because of the -- if you look at the--
Justice Sonia Sotomayor: Well, I don't think that -- that any court has suggested that the complete absence of the protected group in that kind of number wouldn't give rise to a fair representation claim.
That's why this Court, the Michigan court, and many others have said that the absolute disparity test just can't be used in every circumstance.
Mr. Restuccia: --Well, the -- it seems -- looking at what the Federal courts have done, they've all -- they've generally used multiple tests.
Now, there are several circuits that have relied on this 10 percent threshold, but it's not necessary for the State to prevail in order for this Court to adopt the 10 percent threshold.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor: I don't.
The question I have you for you is -- that's what you have been advocating, or at least your brief suggested we should.
Wouldn't it be better for to us leave this in the hands of the courts to sort of figure out what test is better under what circumstances than us announce a flat rule that would lead to a result like the example that I just used?
Mr. Restuccia: I -- I understand that point.
The reason that I'm suggesting a threshold also is it corresponds to a practical aspect of the application of these rules.
The -- if you have a sufficiently small absolute disparity, as a matter of probability, it's not likely to affect the actual composition of the petit jury.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor: Well, I agree that if a protected group is 1 percent of the population, that it's not likely that their absence is going to give rise to any flags.
Mr. Restuccia: Right.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor: But I think there is a difference.
I don't -- I just don't know statistically where.
And we have to leave this in the judgment of the lower courts as to where between 1 and 9 or 1 and 10 a difference makes sense.
And that's what the courts are saying, is: We can't use one test to determine that.
Mr. Restuccia: Well -- and one of the concerns I have is I -- for example, I know in Kent County that if you look at the other distinct groups-you look at the 1990 census for Kent County, it was comprised of 2 point -- 2.9 percent Latino-Americans, 1.1 percent Asian-Americans, and 0.6 percent Native Americans.
Now, if you look at the one month that's been placed at issue, in which Mr. Smith is indicating that there was a 35 percent comparative disparity for that one month, if that becomes the threshold, the standard used, which the Sixth Circuit concluded was -- established a violation of the second prong, then if you think about the practical application that -- for Michigan, for Kent County, if you take your 158 jurors in that jury pool, you'd expect for that one month for there to be four or five Latino-Americans, two Asian -- Americans, and one Native American.
Justice Antonin Scalia: What's wrong--
Mr. Restuccia: What's missing -- I'm sorry.
Justice Antonin Scalia: --Yes.
What's wrong with a rule?
Mr. Restuccia: What's wrong with what?
Justice Antonin Scalia: With a rule?
With picking a number, rather than leaving it up to the courts of appeals or the district courts to use different numbers, different times?
I don't have to review all of these cases all the time.
Why don't we pick a number?
You want 10, right?
Mr. Restuccia: That what was I--
Justice Antonin Scalia: Yes--
Mr. Restuccia: --That has been the practice of the courts below.
That's why I'm -- I'm advocating it.
But it does correspond to this idea that below a certain point, absolute disparity will have no practical -- for example, in this case, the venire at issue, according to the State trial court, included 60 prospective jurors, and there were three African -- Americans, which would then constitute 5 percent.
Now, in order for that percentage to correspond exactly to the jury-eligible population, there would had to have been one or two more African -- American jurors as part of that venire.
Well, as a matter of probability, if you have 12 being selected from 60 -- this is kind of your point, Justice Breyer -- that it's not -- it's more likely than not that would have no effect on the actual selection of the petit jury--
Justice Stephen G. Breyer: I don't know.
The one thing I learned from the urn business is it never turns out the way you think.
For example, it had the example of, like, the eight: There are eight out of a hundred, and you run this thing a thousand times, and you'll discover that there is one black juror on about half the juries, or a third, anyway.
That's much more than I would have thought intuitively.
And I might not have even read the example correctly.
So you see why I -- I'm at sea, as soon as you tell me to be a statistician.
I even got a book called Statistician for Lawyers.
That didn't help me very much.
Justice Antonin Scalia: --That's why Las Vegas makes a profit, right?
Chief Justice John G. Roberts: Well, it does depend, doesn't it, on the size of the -- the urn?
In other words, if it's a smaller--
If it's 10,000 of these balls and you are going to go through it 10,000 times, it's more likely that you are going to get a sample that reflects the overall percentage, correct?
Mr. Restuccia: --I think that's right.
One of the -- one of the reasons, also -- talking about this 10 percent as a rule -- is that if you look through these cases, you'll see a lot of -- a lot of the courts, on direct review -- and I think -- I'm going to come back to this point, that this, of course, is an AEDPA case, so the question is whether the Michigan Supreme Court acted unreasonably.
And so I think there's a different standard, that it doesn't have to have gotten it right; it had to have been objectively unreasonable.
But setting that aside, you'll find many cases in which there are disparities of 5 percent and 7 percent which have been rejected.
And the reason is you have neutral processes, processes that everyone would agree are reasonable on their face, which result in disparities for distinct groups.
Justice Anthony Kennedy: --Are you -- are you saying that systematic exclusion -- and we are assuming good faith, no intent to discriminate--
Mr. Restuccia: Right.
Justice Anthony Kennedy: --that systematic exclusion is always proven or disproven by statistics?
Mr. Restuccia: No.
I'm making just the -- the opposite point, that under the third--
Justice Anthony Kennedy: Well--
Mr. Restuccia: --I'm sorry.
Justice Anthony Kennedy: --And I'll -- I'll allow you to answer, of course, but--
Mr. Restuccia: Please.
Justice Anthony Kennedy: --If not, how do we show systematic exclusion?
Again, assuming good faith, no intent to discriminate.
Mr. Restuccia: The Duren case involved a categorical distinction, meaning women were exempted in a different way than men.
Women had an automatic exemption.
This Court didn't delineate in Duren that if you had just a disparate impact based on a neutral process, that that would be sufficient to give rise to systematic exclusion.
And that's really been the way the Federal courts have applied it on direct review, that there--
Justice Samuel Alito: The statistical issue is very interesting, but I -- I wonder, if we were not looking at this through AEDPA, why we -- why a court should necessarily have to start with the question -- with the elements of the prima facie -- with the question of whether there is unconstitutional underrepresentation, when in the end, as I understand Duren, the defendant has to identify some aspect of the jury selection process that has a disproportionate impact on the group involved and is unreasonable?
And unless that can be done at the outset, why struggle with these statistics?
Now, here, to illustrate, the aspect of the jury selection process that the Sixth Circuit thought was unreasonable was the prior practice of choosing the jurors first for the district courts, the misdemeanor courts, rather than the circuit courts, the -- the felony courts.
But the -- the trial judge, it seemed to me, address this in -- in a very thoughtful way, and he said there just isn't any proof that this old system had that effect.
And it's hard for me to see how it could have that effect, unless the -- the number of jurors chosen for the district courts in Grand Rapids was disproportionate to the number chosen for the district courts in the other jurisdictions within the county.
So that seems to me to be the end of the case.
And why does it make sense to -- to struggle with this rather complicated statistical problem, if at the end of the day, it's going to come down to something of that nature?
Mr. Restuccia: --I think that may be the easiest way to resolve this case, because under the third prong, the Michigan Supreme Court on the question of jury assignment concluded that Mr. Smith had failed to factually show that there was any underrepresentation that arose from that process.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: Didn't the Michigan Supreme Court do essentially what Justice Alito suggested, that they said: We'll give you the benefit of the doubt, go on to the third.
But on that third, it seems to me there's nothing that shows us what was the representation in the district before they made the change vis-à-vis the circuit courts, was there?
Mr. Restuccia: The -- the information that Mr. Smith's expert provided is he -- he had -- there are two jury terms that were described, one for 6 months, in which this juror assignment to the local courts first occurred, and then 1 year for the following year, in which the jury assignment did not send them to the local courts first.
So you have two different pools that are being compared.
The -- if you look at page 13 of the blue brief, it outlines what the disparity was according to Mr. Smith's expert for the time which the assignment to local courts occurred.
And in that diagram, it shows, at the end, that there was an 18 percent comparative disparity.
And that's the final column in the totals.
Now, that's what occurred at the time of which the jury assignment to the local courts occurred first.
The following year, the comparative disparity was 15 percent, where the -- where the jurors were not sent to local courts first.
In other words, there was a difference of a 3 percent comparative disparity.
Now, no one suggests that a 3 percent comparative disparity could -- could justify a claim of a violation of Duren.
It's -- it's not statistically significant, because when you talk about 3 percent comparative disparity or 4 percent comparative disparity, you are talking about two or three jurors over the entire time period--
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: That -- that's in the -- in the circuit court.
Do we know what the figures were just for the district court?
Mr. Restuccia: --No.
There -- there was no information -- the reason -- the Michigan Supreme Court ultimately rejected the claim on the jury assignment process because there was no evidence other than anecdotal testimony about how sending jurors to local courts would result in a deficiency of African -- Americans in the circuit court or the felony court -- courts.
So that was the basis.
They -- so in a way, this touches on Wood v. Allen.
It was a factual determination, whether it's under 2254(d)(2) or 2254(e)(1).
The Michigan Supreme Court's conclusion that Mr. Smith had failed to show factually that there was any underrepresentation that arose from the jury assignment process is entitled deference.
Justice John Paul Stevens: But isn't it possible -- it's awfully hard to get these percentages when you get small numbers, as you do.
But doesn't it seem intuitively obvious that if you give the district courts first crack of -- of the size of the pool that has more of the African-American potential jurors in it than the other, that it's -- it's bound to have an impact?
Mr. Restuccia: No.
There's -- there's no logical necessity that sending courts -- because you understand that you have the entire county, and the county is then broken up into districts?
Justice John Paul Stevens: Right.
Mr. Restuccia: And the districts are the local courts, and they are misdemeanor courts.
Justice John Paul Stevens: But -- but there's a much higher percentage of African-Americans in Grand Rapids than there is in the county as a whole.
Mr. Restuccia: That's right.
But all those other outlying areas also have to send their jurors to the district court first, too.
It's not like it's just one segment gets sent to the district court.
All of the jurors get sent to the district courts first.
The only -- the -- the proof required to show that somehow the district court for Grand Rapids went through more jurors than did the other local courts proportionately--
Justice John Paul Stevens: But -- but the jurors that served on the district court, were they -- were they taken from the entire county, too, or just from Grand Rapids?
Mr. Restuccia: --No, they were -- all of the -- all of the district courts -- Grand Rapids, Rockford, all of these small municipalities -- drew from the circuit court pool.
Justice John Paul Stevens: So the district court jurors could -- could include as many jurors who are not from Grand Rapids as they could from Grand Rapids?
Mr. Restuccia: Exactly.
Justice John Paul Stevens: I see.
Mr. Restuccia: In other words, the proof--
Chief Justice John G. Roberts: I'm sorry.
That -- I'm confused.
Mr. Restuccia: --That's all right.
Chief Justice John G. Roberts: I thought it was the other way around.
I thought Grand Rapids gave however many -- you know, 30 percent to the pool and then took Grand Rapids people back?
Mr. Restuccia: It does take Grand Rapids people, that's right.
That's how it happens.
You're drawing from the entire county.
I'm sorry if I -- if I've -- if I've stated it in a way that's misleading.
Justice John Paul Stevens: I -- apparently, we were not communicating correctly.
Mr. Restuccia: All of the jurors from the entire county are drawn into one pool.
Justice John Paul Stevens: Right.
Mr. Restuccia: And then the -- the local courts can identify those people that came from within their jurisdiction and draw them out.
Justice John Paul Stevens: So the--
Mr. Restuccia: Everyone does it.
Justice John Paul Stevens: --So the jurors who served on the district court were primarily from Grand Rapids, rather than Kent County as a whole?
Mr. Restuccia: The -- there's no information to -- in the record--
Justice John Paul Stevens: Well, let me just ask you--
Mr. Restuccia: --that indicates that.
Justice John Paul Stevens: --a factual question.
Could they put on the district court jurors who did not come from Grand Rapids?
Mr. Restuccia: No.
The -- the district court for Grand Rapids had to be Grand Rapids residents.
You're exactly right.
Justice John Paul Stevens: So, then, inevitably, if you give the district court jurors first, a pool of African-American jurors are going to be larger serving in the district court than in the -- in the felony court.
Mr. Restuccia: It all depends on the local courts and their usage of jurors.
If -- if Grand Rapids actually required fewer jurors, it would -- it would result in a larger number of African-Americans being present on the circuit court.
The whole concept underlying the claim that -- that this had a disproportionate effect is the idea that Grand Rapids must have needed proportionately more jurors than the other local courts might.
Justice Stephen G. Breyer: Okay.
So, is there anybody who said whether -- if all -- they all take their jurors first, the districts, and Grand Rapids uses a higher percentage of jurors.
So now there -- and they have more of the black jurors, so that there are fewer left over--
Mr. Restuccia: That would be the argument.
Justice Stephen G. Breyer: --That could be.
Now, is there any -- in this record, does anybody say whether that's okay or not?
I mean, to -- to have people serve jury duty near where they live or nearer where they live, on its face, is not so bad.
Did -- did anybody say whether this is good or bad?
Mr. Restuccia: Well, there wasn't really testimony whether it was good or bad.
The -- the anecdotal information was that it -- it took African -- American jurors out of the larger pool.
The anecdotal information from the court administrator was: We were afraid this process was draining -- "siphoning" was the language -- siphoning jurors from the circuit court.
Justice Stephen G. Breyer: Are you--
Justice Antonin Scalia: Do you have to be a -- a resident of the district in order to serve as a juror in the district court?
Mr. Restuccia: Yes.
Justice Antonin Scalia: You have to be?
Mr. Restuccia: That's right.
Justice Antonin Scalia: So then if this system were not in effect, and if Grand Rapids had to take white jurors from other counties as opposed to a larger percentage of black jurors from Grand Rapids, then you'd have a claim in Grand Rapids, wouldn't you?
Mr. Restuccia: It would create a problem in Grand Rapids.
Justice Antonin Scalia: Well, you -- you'd have a jury pool in Grand Rapids that wouldn't reflect the larger number of blacks in Grand Rapids.
Mr. Restuccia: That's exactly right.
Justice Antonin Scalia: So you're damned if you do and damned if you don't, right?
Mr. Restuccia: I think that's right.
Chief Justice John G. Roberts: So -- so do we have any evidence in the record that -- I gather this whole claim depends upon Grand Rapids having more need for jurors per capita than anywhere else?
Mr. Restuccia: That's exactly right.
Chief Justice John G. Roberts: So do we have any evidence in the record that that's the case?
Mr. Restuccia: Nothing other than the anecdotal testimony.
Like, for example, the court administrator said it is believed that this process results in a reduction in the number of jurors -- of African-American jurors--
Chief Justice John G. Roberts: I would suppose that's something we can find out pretty easily, right?
I mean, you look and see how many jurors are pulled for -- how many jurors Grand Rapids needs in a particular period--
Mr. Restuccia: --That's right.
Chief Justice John G. Roberts: --compare it to how many jurors Rockland needs.
Mr. Restuccia: Right.
And that information was not provided, and that's one of the reasons the Michigan Supreme Court rejected the claim factually, that it had not been demonstrated.
And, in fact, if you look at the information that Mr. Smith's expert put forward, it really confirms that the -- even the best showing for Mr. Smith is a very small correlation.
I mean, you're talking about a 3 or 4 percent comparative disparity difference.
Justice Anthony Kennedy: Let me get that.
If -- if a procedure routinely results in statistical underrepresentation that is significant, is that not a clear showing of systematic exclusion?
Mr. Restuccia: It would have to be significant, and I don't think there's--
Justice Anthony Kennedy: Well, yes -- no, that's -- it's a hypothetical.
Mr. Restuccia: --Oh, if the--
Justice Anthony Kennedy: Routinely results in significant underrepresentation, then that is automatically systematic exclusion?
Mr. Restuccia: --Not -- not under my reading of Duren.
I don't think that would be -- I don't think that's the -- the proper rule.
And I -- the reason--
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: And then they would not have -- have gone on to the systemic issue, because the disparity was so marked, just on the -- just on the numbers?
Mr. Restuccia: --Well, I -- I don't think the numbers were sufficient to justify--
Justice Anthony Kennedy: I mean, isn't the -- I'm trying to think about the third prong of -- of--
Mr. Restuccia: --Right.
Justice Anthony Kennedy: --of Duren.
Isn't -- if it's routine and it's predictable and it's constant, isn't that always due to systematic exclusion?
Mr. Restuccia: And that's the argument being raised by Mr. Smith.
No, I think the answer is no.
And the reason I say that is this: You have -- the Federal courts, on direct review, have looked at voter registration and challenges to voter registration.
Voter registration may have a disparate -- or affect distinct groups differently.
In the same way that the Second and Tenth Circuit have looked at cases where they failed to follow up on non-returns, that -- if you don't follow up on non-returns, it may affect distinct groups differently.
The analysis of the Federal courts on that issue has been that the decisions to exempt yourself from jury service or the failure to respond to an invitation for jury service is outside the system.
Even if it occurs regularly and is persistent, it's still not inherent in the process.
That's what the Michigan Supreme Court said here about the excuses for hardship and transportation -- for the excuses.
But it's also true that the process by which you select jurors in district courts is not something that is a systematic exclusion of anyone.
It's -- on its face, it is neutral, and if you -- if this Court concludes that neutral practices like sending out -- using a certain body, whether voter registration or if it's driver's licenses and Michigan identification cards, or not following up on non-returns, or allowing excuses for hardship, or -- or assigning jurors to a district court first, if that is -- can result in systematic exclusion, what's going to happen is that all these neutral processes that Michigan has may result in disparities.
And so, as it stands now, Kent County doesn't identify the race and ethnicity of all of its jurors.
Well, it's going to have to if it's going to have to have this perfect correspondence of the juryeligible population.
It will no longer have this kind of blind neutrality--
Justice Samuel Alito: But concluding that it's systematic doesn't mean that the defendant wins.
It just means that the State has to -- has to justify the -- the mechanism that's causing -- that's causing this -- this situation.
Mr. Restuccia: --That's true.
There is -- there is then the rebuttal.
But then what happens is you are subject to these challenges.
The question is: Does the court -- does the State ever wish -- ever wish to be in a position of having to be subject to the challenge?
But -- but I think I want to come back to -- one of the prevailing points of all of this is that this is also the Michigan Supreme Court.
There's no question that it had reached the merits and was entitled to AEDPA deference.
And the -- the question was: Was there adequate guidance to the State of Michigan to know that this was both systematic -- that this was systematic exclusion and inherent in the process?
And Duren was not clear on that point.
The -- the analysis of the Michigan courts really corresponds quite closely to what the Federal courts have done, so it cannot be objectively unreasonable.
And if there--
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: One point of information: What is the Michigan ID?
Mr. Restuccia: --Oh, what happens if you don't have it -- some people don't have a right to a driver's license, so you can still obtain an identification card even if you are not able to drive.
So it's trying to get as wide a group as possible for your pool of jurors.
And if there are no--
Justice John Paul Stevens: Let me ask this factual question: Am I correct in understanding that Michigan in fact has changed the practice with regard to giving priority to--
Mr. Restuccia: --That's right.
Justice John Paul Stevens: --Yes.
Mr. Restuccia: That's right.
Chief Justice John G. Roberts: Thank you, counsel.
ORAL ARGUMENT OF JAMES STERLING LAWRENCE ON BEHALF OF RESPONDENT
Mr. Lawrence: Okay.
Mr. Chief Justice, and may it please the Court: If the annual jury call of minorities at the courthouse in Grand Rapids is down by 7.28 percent of the total number of jurors called, that means if it happens in Detroit, that means almost nothing, but if it happens in Grand Rapids, that's every minority.
The Petitioner's goal is to have this Court enshrine into law a rule that the two situations are exactly the same.
Chief Justice John G. Roberts: If you had a community with one African-American, your argument would be the same, if that's the disparity?
That means every -- every minority is left off the jury.
Mr. Lawrence: Well, I think that certainly if you adopt the Petitioner's test for 60 percent of the country, Duren would not apply regarding African -- Americans; 90 percent of the country, wouldn't apply to Hispanics; and Duren protections would never apply to Native Americans anywhere.
Chief Justice John G. Roberts: I guess I'm -- I guess I'm echoing Justice Stevens's question of whether or not this type of statistical analysis really works when you're dealing with relatively small numbers.
Mr. Lawrence: Well, I would make this observation: That in Duren v. Missouri, on page 366, the Court stated,
"His undisputed demonstration that a large discrepancy occurred, not just occasionally, but in every weekly venire for a period of nearly a year, manifestly indicates that the cause of the representation was systematic -- that is, inherent in the particular jury selection process utilized. "
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: Yes, but there you were dealing with an express exemption.
There was an exemption for a woman, and also in the record was that the jury clerk was sending out notices saying: Women, if you do not wish to serve, return the summons to the judge named on the reverse side as quickly as possible.
And then, further -- systematic -- if the card was not returned, if a card sent to a woman was not returned, it was automatically assumed that she did not wish to serve.
There was no follow-up.
So there was all kinds of evidence of systematic problems in Duren that are not present here.
Mr. Lawrence: Well, first of all, that's completely correct; however, the rule in Duren, the U.S. Supreme Court stated that the numbers alone prove systematic.
Then the Court--
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: Where did the Court say that?
Mr. Lawrence: --On page 366.
And then in -- the Court went on to say that the State is arguing that there's various neutral, benign reasons for the underrepresentation--
Justice Antonin Scalia: Excuse me.
You -- if that statement is true, then -- then there is -- there's no third part to the three-part test.
I thought Duren established a three-part test.
Mr. Lawrence: --It did.
Justice Antonin Scalia: And the third one was that you had to establish -- after having already established the disparity, you had to establish that there was a selection process which caused the disparity.
And you are telling us that you don't have to proceed to step 3.
Once you show the disparity, it is assumed that it is the product of the system.
Mr. Lawrence: Well, Justice Scalia, my reading of Duren does indeed include that third test, but the problem is, is that Duren puts the burden of proof on that test on the State.
They said at pages 368 to 369 that the State is claiming there were all sorts of neutral, legitimate reasons for the underrepresentation--
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: Oh, that was after -- that was after showing the systematic factors.
It was the plaintiff's burden -- or the defendant in the case, Duren -- burden to show there was a systematic factor.
That was the automatic exception for a woman and how it worked in practice.
After all of that, then Justice White tells us, the State could still come back and say yes, that's true, but there were other reasons why women didn't show up.
Maybe they were disproportionately elderly, or maybe they were involved with child care.
That's what -- that's what Duren said, that the -- showing a systematic factor was the plaintiff's burden, and then the State could justify why the numbers came out that way.
Mr. Lawrence: --Well, we did show a number of systematic factors, but if you look at Duren itself, on page 366 it says, the numbers alone proved it.
On -- further on 366, they stated that Duren--
Justice Antonin Scalia: How do you reconcile that with the third test?
Please tell me how you reconcile that statement with the fact that it did set forth a three -- a three-prong test.
Mr. Lawrence: --Well, I believe that we met the three-prong test, but I feel that it is an error in reading Duren to say anything other than that: The State must show how this came about, not the defendant.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: Where does it say that?
Mr. Lawrence: --did show it, and--
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: Where does it say that?
Mr. Lawrence: --It says that at pages 368 to 369.
Justice Samuel Alito: It says that the State has to show that it has a reason, a good reason, for -- the aspect of the selection process that has been identified as causing the disparity.
But does it say that it's the State's obligation to go through every factor that may cause the disparity and justify every one?
Or is it the defendant's obligation to point to some aspect of the selection -- of the -- of the system that causes the disparity?
Then once the defendant identifies that, then the State can show if it -- can try to show that there's a good reason for it.
Mr. Lawrence: --Well, I would read one sentence from Duren, if I could:
"Assuming, arguendo, that the exemptions mentioned by the court below would justify failure to achieve a fair community crosssection on jury venires, the State must demonstrate that these exemptions caused the underrepresentation complained of. "
And I think that all of the courts, all along the way, including Michigan's supreme court, have overlooked that important principle.
Chief Justice John G. Roberts: Do I understand your siphoning theory to depend upon Grand Rapids drawing a disproportionate number of jurors from the pool?
Mr. Lawrence: That is--
Chief Justice John G. Roberts: That results in fewer minorities going up to the county court, right?
Mr. Lawrence: --That's right.
Because those jurors that were pulled out for district court, many of them did not serve in district court.
The majority did not, but they were still removed from--
Chief Justice John G. Roberts: Removed from the county--
Mr. Lawrence: --from the overall pool.
Chief Justice John G. Roberts: --Where -- where in the record is it established that Grand Rapids had a disproportionate need for jurors from the pool?
Mr. Lawrence: I don't believe either side established that.
Chief Justice John G. Roberts: Well, if it's -- if your theory depends upon Grand Rapids drawing a disproportionate number and it is not in the record that Grand Rapids drew a disproportionate number, I think that means you lose.
Mr. Lawrence: Well, I would respectfully disagree with the Court because it is not necessary, in our view, that each specific item that led to underrepresentation be, itself, something that's unconstitutional, but rather, the collective nature of it, that 15 out of 17 months persistently and repeatedly came up with substantial underrepresentation.
You are talking about 34.8 percent here.
Justice Samuel Alito: But that's the only factor that the Sixth Circuit identified as illegitimate, was this -- was this siphoning system.
Mr. Lawrence: Well, I feel that--
Justice Samuel Alito: It rejected everything else, didn't it?
Mr. Lawrence: --I feel that there are a number of factors.
I suppose that we could do it on the basis of height and then be surprised when there's fewer women on the jury.
Justice Stephen G. Breyer: Now, why is it -- I'm just not clear in my mind.
Why is this siphoning bad?
My impression, which may be wrong, is you -- you have a thousand people in the room, let's say, and if you let the district courts choose first, people will serve nearer where they live.
Now -- and so most of them would rather serve nearer where they live.
And the result of that could be, for the reasons that were stated, that then there are fewer minorities on the more general jurors that draw from a wider area, and I don't know about the merits of that.
I mean, I see a negative, and I see a positive.
So is it -- it doesn't seem to me obviously bad, nor is it obviously good.
So what should I do?
Mr. Lawrence: Well, the record showed--
Justice Stephen G. Breyer: Right.
Mr. Lawrence: --that the people who were actually showing up for the jury panels at circuit court were very heavily overrepresented in the rural areas of Kent County and heavily underrepresented--
Justice Stephen G. Breyer: Well, but -- but that's just the explanation of the problem that we're seeing.
Mr. Lawrence: --Right.
Well, I guess--
Justice Stephen G. Breyer: The problem we're seeing is that if Grand Rapids has a higher juror utilization rate and they have a higher minority population, then you will end up with the leftover juries having a lower minority population.
Now, the explanation for that is that you choose the district judges -- you choose the district jurors first.
My question to you is: I -- if you're just a -- I'm not instructed in this area.
If you were just to tell me, what do I think of that, I would say I'm not sure.
I think you have fewer minorities, that's true, but people get to serve closer to home.
Now -- now, can you enlighten me a little bit about this?
Mr. Lawrence: --Yes.
Well, first of all, Grand Rapids has several district courts, and the largest one is the district court for the city of Grand Rapids.
And as one would predict, the judicial business of a large city is certainly going to be more extensive than the judicial business in rural areas.
Chief Justice John G. Roberts: Of course.
Of course, but we have to look at this on a proportional basis, right?
Grand Rapids is also sending a higher number of jurors to the pool than -- than the small rural county.
Mr. Lawrence: Well--
Chief Justice John G. Roberts: Your -- your theory depends upon Grand Rapids drawing not just a proportional number, if it's contributing 30 percent and it draws 30 percent; your theory depends upon Grand Rapids contributing 30 percent to the pool and drawing 40 percent.
Mr. Lawrence: --Well, I guess I would simply say that the court administrator testified and the district judge found that they had substantial underrepresentation that was very noticeable, very visible, a severe problem, and after my client's trial, they -- they concluded that the best way of dealing with this was to end the siphoning process, which they did.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor: And so, what -- what did it result in?
It resulted over a 6-month period and a difference between 18 percent underrepresentation and 15 percent.
And your adversary says that's not statistically meaningful difference, that 3 percent, because it only takes a difference of a couple of people to change it from 18 to 15.
Mr. Lawrence: Well, I--
Justice Sonia Sotomayor: What's -- what's unreasonable about that argument?
Mr. Lawrence: --Well, I have two answers to that.
The first one being that what -- one thing that was eliminated was the spikes, like we had in my client's month, 34.8, even though the average underrepresentation was only 18.1.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor: You can't -- you are comparing apples and oranges, because your pre-spike was over a year and your post-spike was over 6 months.
We don't know what would have happened -- or didn't have statistics of a year or longer.
Mr. Lawrence: Okay.
Well, in the case of Duren, you're talking about -- they had a 10-month period that was involved, but as for the numbers being small, I can only refer you to cases that I very much disagree with -- United States v. Sanchez-Lopez, cited in my brief, where Hispanics comprised 5.59 percent of the southern district of Idaho -- and the court basically said: Since that's less than 10 percent, who cares if there are Hispanics on the juries?
The same in United States--
Justice Stephen G. Breyer: Well, I wouldn't say that, but I still haven't -- I will try again.
Forget the cases.
As I'm hearing this, all I'm hearing is: Well, if you let the -- if you say that the wider area should choose first, you will get a higher number of minorities, but very tiny number; I mean a very small addition, one or two people.
And if you do it the way they're doing it, you'll lose those one or two people, but you will let people serve closer to home.
So I just think -- as a person, not as a judge -- that's why I am letting you answer it as a judge -- but I mean, I'd say, well, it doesn't sound like much of a big deal.
And -- and I do see an advantage in this, of the way they are doing it, so, now, you tell me what's -- what's wrong with that?
Mr. Lawrence: --Okay.
Well, first of all, Kent County is not really that big.
It's -- anybody can drive from the farthest end of the county to downtown Grand Rapids in approximately 20 to 30 minutes.
It wouldn't be that difficult to get there.
I bet members of this Court have a longer commute.
But, more importantly, the -- the fact that you're only talking about 25 people out of 2,250 people simply means that the problem will be easy for court administrators to solve, if they have an incentive to do it.
Chief Justice John G. Roberts: How is that?
Don't those people then have to become professional jurors?
They have to serve on every jury, or you're going to have the disproportion that the statistics show.
Mr. Lawrence: Well, the statistics showed, for example, that African-Americans had a much higher rate of not having an automobile.
And so if you say, well, if you have trouble getting a ride, you could tell somebody, come on down anyway; or you can say, that's all right, take the day off.
And if African Americans have a very substantial higher rate of single-parent households, well, then, of course, it's going to be harder to get a babysitter.
Now, you can tell those people, well, that's okay, stay home; or you can say, try to get down here anyway.
And the court -- and if somebody simply didn't show up, statistics have shown, in the brief--
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: May I stop you there for a moment?
Because one of the things that was in the Duren opinion was that a child care excuse would be okay.
I think Justice White said at the end, now, I'm not touching the typical hardship excuses, and one of them was child care, and that is -- certainly, in the early '70s, was going to disproportionately affect women.
You have far fewer women if you give a child care exemption.
Mr. Lawrence: --No doubt that that's true, and I am not saying that it is wrong to give real hardship exemptions.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: But this -- he wasn't talking about individual cases.
Mr. Lawrence: --Well, in this case, one of the things that happened is that, if somebody didn't-simply didn't show up, that's it.
Now, judges -- the court administrator said, yes, we tried.
The judges would issue orders to show cause, but the police department made a decision that they were not going to have anything to do with the serving or participation in these orders to show cause, orders to show up.
And isn't that police department decision part of the system?
It is systematic.
When the police--
Justice John Paul Stevens: Let me just--
Mr. Lawrence: --tell the courts what to do, shouldn't the courts tell the police what to do?
Justice John Paul Stevens: --Let me make sure I understand your position.
Assume that there is an -- an identifiable disparity of 2 percent or 3 percent, or whatever it might be to get to the threshold of being significant, that's entirely caused by the fact that the members of the minority have personal excuses that justify non-service.
What do you do with that case?
Do you find that it was -- it's unconstitutional, or don't you?
Mr. Lawrence: If you find that it is persistent, month in and month out--
Justice John Paul Stevens: It is.
Mr. Lawrence: --then you have a problem because society benefits when jurors are drawn from the broadest spectrum of the system.
Justice John Paul Stevens: --I didn't--
Justice Anthony Kennedy: Well, that's policy.
Can't you say that that is systematic exclusion because it's part of the system?
Mr. Lawrence: Well--
Justice John Paul Stevens: --But is it unconstitutional, is what I'm trying to find out.
Society benefits because -- if you make them serve; the society benefits if you grant the excuses, too.
Mr. Lawrence: --Well, overall, there's nothing wrong with granting excuses for genuine hardship; however, when you have this factor and factor 2 and factor 3 and factor 4, and they persistently come up with all-white juries, that's what Richard Hillary testified to, 98 percent of the time, nothing, but all-white juries.
And if somebody could--
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: Is there -- is there a Federal district that corresponds to this Kent County?
Is there a Federal district court that would be calling jurors in -- in the same geographical area?
Mr. Lawrence: --Well, there is the United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan that covers a very large amount of territory, and, frankly, I have not studied their statistics, but I know, from personal knowledge, that the African American population in the Western District of Michigan would be smaller than in Kent County or in the city of Grand Rapids, where--
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: But you don't have -- you don't have comparable -- comparable records for what was going on in the -- in the district court?
Mr. Lawrence: --Well, if you mean the United States District Court--
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: Yes.
Mr. Lawrence: --No, I -- I have not studied that situation, and--
Justice Samuel Alito: Are there -- are there courts that you know of that do what you are suggesting needs to be done?
When a juror does not show up, the judge issues a bench warrant, and -- and the police are sent out to arrest the person and drag the person into court, or somebody says, I am a single parent, and I have children, and I'm too poor to have a nanny or an au pair, and, therefore, please excuse me; and they say, no, you have to find some way of getting here.
Are there courts that do that?
Mr. Lawrence: --I don't know of a court that arrests people, and I -- in this case, it wasn't a question of arresting.
The local judges made a decision: We are going to issue orders to show cause; people will be required to come in.
The police decided, no, we're not going to have anything to do with that.
And I feel that that's part of the system because the police are part of the system.
Justice Antonin Scalia: Mr. Sterling, I don't -- you seem to acknowledge that, to make your case, you have to show that Grand Rapids district drew from the pool a disproportionate number of people.
Why -- why do you have to prove that?
If Grand Rapids contributes to the pool an inordinate, disproportionate number of the minority -- blacks in this case -- even if Grand Rapids simply took back a proportionate number from the pool, it would still have a disproportionate effect on reducing the number of blacks in the overall pool, wouldn't it?
Mr. Lawrence: In order to solve this problem, all that Kent County would have to do is to, if you take people to district court, put back the ones that aren't being used.
That would certainly help, but, instead, they take an excess number, like any court does, but the excess people are totally removed from the system.
Chief Justice John G. Roberts: Your answer to Justice Scalia's question is -- is no, right?
Because the idea is, if Grand Rapids sends up a pool that's 30 percent minority and if it takes back the same number as everybody else, it's going to get -- the county is going to get the same proportion.
It's only when they take back more.
They have the more heavily African-American pool, and they are going to draw from it more than everybody else is drawing from theirs, so there will be fewer African -- Americans to go to the county.
Mr. Lawrence: That is what's happening, but I don't believe--
Chief Justice John G. Roberts: But you have no evidence that Grand Rapids takes back more than its share, proportionally, than anybody else.
Mr. Lawrence: --We know that the -- as soon as they stopped doing it, this created a substantial increase in the number of African-Americans on the juries, and I think that that's--
Chief Justice John G. Roberts: At the county level?
Mr. Lawrence: --At the county level.
Chief Justice John G. Roberts: Yes.
Was there any evidence that your venire -- that minorities were underrepresented on your venire?
Mr. Lawrence: Yes.
Chief Justice John G. Roberts: Where is that in the record?
Mr. Lawrence: Okay.
The -- well, it is in the testimony of -- well, if you look, it's -- I'm sorry that I don't have the page number, but right at the time, it was said, we have two or three African -- Americans within this group, that was either 60 or 100.
And I'm sorry that the record is less clear, but even if it is 3 out of 60, you're talking about 5 percent, whereas the population is 7.28 percent.
If it just happens once or twice--
Chief Justice John G. Roberts: Help me--
Mr. Lawrence: --not a problem, but it happens every month.
Chief Justice John G. Roberts: --Help me -- help me with the math.
If there were one more African -- American, what would the percentage be?
Pretty close to what you're saying it should be, right?
Mr. Lawrence: If there were two more, it would be right on target, just -- it would only be.28 percent low, which, if you simply send out a second letter, because the testimony of Kim Foster was that, later on, when they started sending out the second letter, half of the people who did not respond would respond--
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: Can we go back to your point about -- that there was a big change when the draw came from the circuit first, before the districts.
I thought it was agreed that, before, there was an 18 percent, on average, comparative difference and, after, 15 percent.
That doesn't sound like a big change.
Mr. Lawrence: --But it's a step in the right direction, and what we want to do is we want to promote more minority participation on jurors -- juries, instead of creating a rule that tells court administrators all over the country, the heat's off, you don't have to do anything.
Justice Antonin Scalia: But a step -- a step in the right direction is not enough.
You were adducing that to prove that the prior system had a significant effect, and it turned out, it didn't have a very significant effect.
It doesn't prove your point to say, well, it's a step in the right direction.
If it's insignificant, it's insignificant.
Whether it's insignificant in the right direction or the wrong direction doesn't matter.
Mr. Lawrence: Well, one element of the entire system might be insignificant, but you are talking about numerous elements that went together, and Duren says they have to show what caused the underrepresentation.
Justice Antonin Scalia: I still don't -- I don't understand this problem of -- of you have to show that they took back more than they contributed.
Let's assume that Grand Rapids is -- is entirely black, and its entire delegation that goes to the pool are all black, okay?
And let's assume that those blacks are 10 percent of the -- the totality, and there are no blacks from anywhere else, okay?
Then Grand Rapids takes back simply the number of people it -- it took, its set, which would be 10 percent, and it takes black -- takes back all of the blacks, who are the Grand Rapids residents.
All of the other districts would thereby have zero percent blacks instead of 10 percent, which is what they ought to have.
Mr. Lawrence: Each district, the jurors are acquired from that district--
Justice Antonin Scalia: Exactly.
Mr. Lawrence: --and the circuit is acquired from all the districts of the county.
Justice Antonin Scalia: Exactly.
So why expect the other districts to have 10 percent blacks simply because Grand Rapids contributed 10 percent of the totality, all of whom were black?
There -- then there's a requirement for each district to have 10 percent blacks, right?
But if Grand Rapids takes back its -- its -- the people it sent, there are no more blacks left to go around.
Mr. Lawrence: Well, I don't expect those outlying districts to have more -- a larger percentage of blacks than the population; I'm only expecting that from the county.
Justice Samuel Alito: Isn't that the case--
Justice Stephen G. Breyer: So what if--
Justice Samuel Alito: --If -- if Grand -- if Grand Rapids uses a disproportionate number of jurors in its district courts, then you are going to have this problem -- the only way to fix the problem would be to have a separate jury system for the district courts.
If you have the -- the circuit courts going first, then the people in the district courts are going to have the problem that you identify.
If you have a system in which it's all done randomly -- circuit court, district court -- the people who come toward the end are going to have the problem.
So I don't see any way out of this, if in fact there was a statistical basis for it, other than having a separate selection process for the district courts.
Is that what you think is necessary?
Mr. Lawrence: I think that we should allow a great deal of flexibility to local court administrators.
As I mentioned in the brief, in the Parents Involved in Community Schools case, there was a discussion in the concurrence by Justice Kennedy about exactly what local governments--
Justice Stephen G. Breyer: --All right.
Mr. Lawrence: --can do to -- to get an appropriate representation of minorities without using racial classifications.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: That was a question of what was permitted.
Here you're trying to say this is required.
The school's case was, these are measures the district could take if it wanted to.
But you are saying these are measures the district must take because the Constitution requires it.
They are quite different settings.
Mr. Lawrence: Well, I admit that it is a different setting.
However, I feel -- well, no, I won't say "I feel".
Duren holds that there must be a reasonable connection between the African-Americans that appear on the jury arrays and the population as a whole.
Justice Stephen G. Breyer: --What about the -- the more I listen, the more I think you think there are a lot of things people could do.
They could send three letters; they could explain in the letters why it's important to come; they could try reversing the thing a little bit with the districts first or not first -- all kinds of things.
But what -- but now you're forcing them into this legal rubric.
So what about a decision, which you wouldn't like, probably, but it would say we can't say that they're unreasonable in respect to not having all of these, but there -- who knows?
You know, when they get around and others try them, et cetera.
In other words, unreasonable/reasonable is one standard, and ambiguity plays a -- a role here, too, that might be helpful.
Mr. Lawrence: Well, you are certainly correct, and I would simply say that the people of Grand Rapids looked up at the juries; 98 percent of the time they saw nothing but white faces.
I think that Duren requires that the local system do something about it.
There's a lot of options.
So you should give them flexibility.
Chief Justice John G. Roberts: Thank you, counsel.
Mr. Lawrence: Thank you, Your Honor.
Chief Justice John G. Roberts: Mr. Restuccia, you have 2 minutes remaining.
REBUTTAL ARGUMENT OF B. ERIC RESTUCCIA, ON BEHALF OF THE PETITIONER
Mr. Restuccia: I just have two brief points.
One is that -- I want to just remind the Court that this is a case under AEDPA review, so that the Michigan Supreme Court has to be not just incorrect; it has to be objectively unreasonable.
And its conclusion, I think probably the easiest analysis here is the conclusion that there was no showing of systemic exclusion, because Mr. Smith failed to show that there was any underrepresentation that arose from the jury assignment process, is probably one of the strongest points, because if you look at the 3 percent comparative disparity, that's less than half of 1 percent absolute disparity.
No one claims that that's statistically significant.
So I think whether it's reviewed under 2254(d)(2) or 2254(e)(1), this Court should reverse.
Chief Justice John G. Roberts: Thank you, counsel.
The case is submitted.
Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.: Justice Ginsburg has our opinion this morning in case 08-1402, Berghuis versus Smith.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: The Sixth Amendment secures to persons charged with crime, the right to be tried by an impartial jury drawn from sources reflecting a fair cross section on the community.
The question presented in this case was that right accorded to responding Diapolis Smith, an African-American convicted of second degree murder by an all white jury in Kent County, Michigan in 1993.
In Duren v. Missouri a 1979 decision, this Court described three showings essential to prove a violation of the Sixth Amendments fair cross section requirement.
A defendant must show that a group qualifying as ‘distinctive’ is not fairly represented in jury pools and that the under-representation is due to systematic exclusion in the jury selection process.
The defendant in Duren readily met all three measures.
He complained of the dearth of women in the Jackson County Missouri jury pool.
Women 54% of the jury eligible population, but only 14.5% of those in the pool from which jurors withdrawn.
Identifying the systematic cause of the under-representation, Duren pointed to Missouri's law exempting all women from mandatory jury service and to the manner in which Jackson County administered the exemption.
We have reviewed the decision of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, holding that Smith satisfied the criteria established by Duren and granting him Habeas Corpus relief.
The disparity in smith’s case was not so dramatic as in Duren.
At the time of Smith’s trial African-Americans were 7.28% of the County’s jury eligible population and 6% of the pool from which jurors were drawn.
Warranting heavyweight, the Supreme Court of Michigan in a cogent decision had held that Smith’s evidence failed to prove systematic exclusion.
Relevant to our appraisal in 1996 in the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, Congress placed tight constraints on federal Habeas review of state court convictions.
Nevertheless the Sixth Circuit found the matter settled, a decision contrary to its own that's what it said would involve an unreasonable application of clearly established federal law.
We reverse the Sixth Circuit’s judgment.
No decision of this Court clearly establishes Smith’s entitlement to Federal Court relief.
The Sixth Circuit featured Kent County’s practice of assigning prospective jurors first to local district boards.
Only after local needs were filled did a county assign persons remaining on the master list to the countywide circuit court, the sole court competent to hear felony cases like Smith’s.
The Michigan Supreme Court however had rejected Smith’s principle plea for lack of proof that the assignment procedure in fact posed significant under-representation.
As that determination was not at all unreasonable the Sixth Circuit had no warrant to disturb it.
Smith also urged that a host of factors combined to reduce systematically the number of African-Americans appearing on Kent County jury list, for example, Kent County’s practice of executing people without adequate proof of alleged hardship and the refusal of Kent County police to enforce court orders for prospective jurors to appear.
This Court it suffices to observe has never held or even hinted that a bare cross section claim can be grounded in generally applied jury selection process features of the kind Smith lists.
Our decision reversing the judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit is unanimous.
Justice Thomas has also filed a concurring opinion.