Miller-El v. Dretke
Miller-El v. Dretke, 545 U.S. 231 (2005), is a United States Supreme Court case that clarified the constitutional limitations on the use by prosecutors of peremptory challenges and of the Texas procedure appropriately termed the "jury shuffle."
|Miller-El v. Dretke|
|Argued December 6, 2004|
Decided June 13, 2005
|Full case name||Miller-El v. Dretke, Director, Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Correctional Institutions Divisions|
|Citations||545 U.S. 231 (more)|
|Prior||361 F.3d 849 (5th Cir. 2004); cert. granted, 542 U.S. 936 (2004).|
|The prosecution in the capital trial of Miller-El violated the Fourteenth Amendment as interpreted in Batson v. Kentucky when it racially discriminated against black potential jurors, and Miller-El is entitled to habeas corpus relief.|
|Majority||Souter, joined by Stevens, O'Connor, Kennedy, Ginsburg, Breyer|
|Dissent||Thomas, joined by Rehnquist, Scalia|
|U.S. Const. amend. XIV|
Thomas Miller-El was charged with capital murder committed in the course of a robbery. After voir dire, Miller-El moved to strike the entire jury because the prosecution had used its peremptory challenges to strike ten of the eleven African-Americans who were eligible to serve on the jury. This motion was denied, and Miller-El was subsequently found guilty and sentenced to death.
Opinion of the Court
In 1986, the Supreme Court ruled in Batson v. Kentucky that a prosecutor's use of peremptory challenges may not be used to exclude jurors on the basis of race. Miller-El appealed based on the Batson criteria and asked that his conviction be overturned. In June 2005, the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 to overturn Miller-El's death sentence, finding his jury selection process had been tainted by racial bias.
The Court had held in Batson that a defendant could rely on "all relevant circumstances" in making out a prima facie case of purposeful discrimination. Miller-El clarified that "all relevant circumstances" included evidence outside "the four corners of the case." Specifically, the Court allowed statistical analysis of the venire, side-by-side comparison of struck and empaneled jurors, disparate questioning, and evidence of historical discrimination.
The Court extended the holding of Miller-El in Snyder v. Louisiana.