Constitutional Law Keyed to Brest
Hernandez v. Texas
Defendant was convicted of murder and on appeal argued that his indictment and conviction were obtained in violation of the Equal Protection Clause because individuals of Mexican descent were systematically excluded from serving as jury commissioner, grand jurors, and petit jurors in the county where he was tried. Defendant presented evidence that residents in the community distinguished between “whites” and “Mexicans;” that most individuals of Mexican descent did not participate in business or community groups; children of Mexican descent were required to attend a segregated school until the fourth grade; at least one restaurant in town displayed a sign announcing that it would not serve Mexicans; the courthouse contained a bathroom designated for “Colored Men” and “Hombres Aqui” (“Men Here”); 14 percent of county residents had a Mexican or Latino last name; 11 percent of all men over age 21 in the county had Mexican or Latino last names; approximately seven percent of the taxpayers in the county were of Mexican descent; in the last 25 years not one person with a Mexican or Latino last name appears to have served on a jury commission, a grand jury or petit jury; and there were men of Mexican or Latino descent in the county, eligible to serve in those positions. The government presented the testimony of five jury commissioners that they did not discriminate against those of Mexican or Latino descent when selecting jurors, but that they selected those they felt most qualified for the position. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari in the case. [The remainder of the procedural posture does not appear in the casebook.]
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