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Name: Berghuis v. Smith
Case #: 08-1402
Court: US Supreme Court
District USSup
Opinion Date: 03/30/2010
Subsequent History: 130 S.Ct. 1328; 176 L.Ed.2d 249

A state using a unique system of assigning prospective jurors which “siphons” a greater percentage of the minority jurors to district courts rather than circuit courts which hear felony cases does not demonstrate systematic exclusion in violation of the Sixth Amendment right to an impartial jury drawn from a fair cross section of the community. Smith’s venire of 60-100 people only included 3 African Americans and he objected to the composition of the venire. The Court applied Duren v. Missouri (1979) 439 U.S. 357, 364. The defendant’s burden is to make a prima facie showing that: (1) the group alleged to be excluded is a distinctive group in the community; (2) that the representation of this group in venires from which juries are selected is not fair and reasonable in relation to the number of such persons in the community; and, (3) that this under representation is due to systematic exclusion of the group in the jury selection process. The state only has a burden of rebuttal after the defendant has made a prima facie showing. The Michigan Supreme court had applied a “case-by-case approach” and found there was no prima facie showing of a systemic exclusion. The decision involved application of AEDPA and the challenged method was not “contrary to or involve an unreasonable application of clearly established Federal law as determined by the United States Supreme Court.” It was within Michigan’s broad discretion to prescribe the qualifications for jurors and their exemptions from jury service.