Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Ballew v. Georgia case brief

Ballew v. Georgia case brief summary
435 U.S. 223 (1978)


CASE SYNOPSIS
Certiorari was granted to the Court of Appeals of Georgia, which had rejected, inter alia, a contention by petitioner that the State's use of a five-member jury in a criminal proceeding had deprived him of his U.S. Constitutional Amendment VI and XIV right to a trial by jury.

DISCUSSION

  • The United States Supreme Court reversed a decision rejecting, inter alia, a contention by petitioner that the use of a five-member jury deprived him of his U.S. Constitutional Amendment VI and XIV right to a trial by jury. 
  • The Court, applying the principles enunciated in a previous holding and scholarly writings, found that significant questions were raised about the wisdom and constitutionality of a reduction in jury size below six jurors. In particular, recent empirical data suggested that progressively smaller juries were less likely to foster effective group deliberation. 
  • The data also raised doubts about the accuracy of the results achieved by smaller panels. 
  • The data suggested that the verdicts of jury deliberation in criminal cases would vary as juries became smaller and that the variance amounted to an imbalance to the detriment of the defense. Representation of minority groups in the community was adversely affected by smaller juries. 
  • Because the Court found no significant advantage to the State in reducing the number of jurors from six to five, trial on criminal charges before a five-member jury was deemed to have deprived petitioner of his constitutional right to trial by jury.

CONCLUSION
The judgment was reversed, and the case was remanded, as petitioner had established that his trial on criminal charges before a jury composed of five jurors deprived him of his constitutionally guaranteed right to a trial by jury. Reduction in jury size below six jurors was deemed to threaten Sixth and Fourteenth Amendment principles.



Recommended Supplements for Criminal Procedure Criminal Procedure: Examples & Explanations, Sixth Edition
Emanuel Law Outline: Criminal Procedure

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