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Criminal Procedure Keyed to Dressler
Ham v. South Carolina
Citation:409 U.S. 524, 93 S.Ct. 848, 35 L.Ed.2d 46.
The defendant was a young, bearded black man. He was well known locally for his work in civil rights activities and had never previously been convicted of a crime. He was charged with the possession of marijuana, and his defense was that he had been framed on the drug charge.
Prior to the trial judge’s voir dire examination of prospective jurors, the defendant’s counsel requested the judge to ask jurors four questions relating to possible prejudice against the defendant. The first two questions sought to elicit any possible racial prejudice, the third question related to possible prejudice against beards, and the fourth dealt with pre-trial publicity relating to the drug problem. The trial judge declined to ask any of the four questions posed by the defendant. The defendant was convicted.
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