Monday, December 23, 2013

Mu’Min v. Virginia case brief

Mu’Min v. Virginia case brief summary
500 U.S. 415 (1991)

Defendant sought review of a decision of the Supreme Court of Virginia, which affirmed his conviction of murder and sentenced him to death.

Defendant appealed an order that affirmed his conviction of murder and sentenced him to death. Defendant was convicted of murdering a woman while he was out of prison on work detail. The case had substantial publicity, and several venire persons that were eventually sworn as jurors answered on voir dire that they had read or heard something about the case. However, none of those jurors indicated that they had formed an opinion based on the outside information or that affected their ability to determine guilt or innocence based solely on the evidence presented at trial.

Defendant contended that his Sixth Amendment right to an impartial jury and his right to due process under the Fourteenth Amendment were violated because the trial judge refused to question further prospective jurors about the specific contents of the news reports to which they had been exposed.


  • The court affirmed and held that although the subject of possible racial bias was required to be covered during voir dire, there was no particular process by which the questioning needed to be done. 
  • The court held that the constitution did not require questioning regarding the specific news reports.

The court affirmed the decision of the lower court, which had affirmed defendant's conviction of murder. The court held that the voir dire proceeding at defendant's trial was proper because the subject of possible racial bias was covered and because the trial court was not required to question the jury regarding specific news reports that had the potential to bias the jury.

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