Hale v. Kentucky

Hale v. Kentucky, 303 U.S. 613 (1938), was a United States Supreme Court case relating to racial discrimination in the selection of juries for criminal trials.[1] The case overturned the conviction of an African American man accused of murder because the lower court of Kentucky had systematically excluded African Americans from serving on the jury in the case.[2] NAACP counsel, including Charles H. Houston, Leon A. Ransom and Thurgood Marshall, represented Hale.[2]

Hale v. Kentucky
Argued March 29, 1938
Decided April 11, 1938
Full case nameJoe Hale v. Commonwealth of Kentucky
Citations303 U.S. 613 (more)
58 S.Ct. 753; 82 L. Ed. 1050; 1938 U.S. LEXIS 300
Case history
PriorHale v. Commonwealth, 269 Ky. 743, 108 S.W.2d 716 (1937); cert. granted, 303 U.S. 629 (1938).
The equal protection of the laws guaranteed to petitioner by the Fourteenth Amendment had been denied.
Court membership
Chief Justice
Charles E. Hughes
Associate Justices
James C. McReynolds · Louis Brandeis
Pierce Butler · Harlan F. Stone
Owen Roberts · Benjamin N. Cardozo
Hugo Black · Stanley F. Reed
Case opinion
Per curiam
Cardozo took no part in the consideration or decision of the case.


Joe Hale, an African American, had been convicted in McCracken County, Kentucky. No African Americans were selected as jury members within the previous 50 years although nearly 7,000 were eligible for jury service.[2]

Opinion of the Court

The court unanimously ruled that the plaintiff's civil rights had been violated.[2]


Hale v. Kentucky was one in a series of cases where the Supreme Court overturned convictions of blacks for reason of discrimination in jury selections in the lower courts.[2]

See also


  1. Hale v. Kentucky, 303 U.S. 613 (1938).
  2. "Encyclopedia". The History of Jim Crow. Archived from the original on 2008-02-28.

Further reading

  • Jefferson, B. S. (1939). "Race Discrimination in Jury Service". Boston University Law Review. 19: 413. ISSN 0006-8047.
  • See a picture of the NAACP Legal Team 1933 including Ransom, professor at the Howard Law School, at "A Century of Racial Segregation, 1849-1950" in the Library of Congress exhibition, "With an Even Hand": Brown v. Board at Fifty. Accessed December 29, 2010. www.loc.gov/exhibits/brown/brown-segregation.html.

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