Pace v. State

In Pace v. State, 714 So. 2d 332 (Ala. 1997), the Court held that there had been a history of discrimination in the selection of grand-jury forepersons in Morgan County, but it did not reverse the Court of Criminal Appeals' affirmance of the defendant's conviction, because the defendant had not properly preserved the issue for appeal. The Court held that the discrimination did not rise to the level of plain error. The Court examined the role of the grand-jury foreperson that was discussed in Rose v. Mitchell and compared that to the role of the grand-jury foreperson in Alabama: "In Rose, the Supreme Court noted that Tennessee grand jury forepersons, in addition to the ministerial functions of presiding over the grand jury, administering oaths to witnesses, and signing indictments and subpoenas, had a substantive duty to assist the district attorney in the investigation of crimes. 443 U.S. at 548, n.2. In contrast, Alabama grand jury forepersons have no duty to assist the district attorney in the investigation of crimes and are generally limited to merely reporting grand jury votes and signing the appropriate paperwork prepared by the court or the district attorney. Rule 12.5, Ala. R. Cr. P. "... Unlike the dominant and authoritative role the Tennessee grand jury foreperson played in Rose, the role of the grand jury foreperson in this case was to perform merely ministerial tasks. The Tennessee grand jury foreperson in Rose had a virtual veto power over the indictment process because under Tennessee law the failure of the foreperson to sign an indictment renders the indictment 'fatally defective.' 443 U.S. at 548, n.2. In contrast, the role of a grand jury foreperson in Alabama is so ministerial that even his or her failure to participate in deliberations and to vote with the panel is not fatal to the indictment. ... Noah v. State, 494 So. 2d 870 (Ala. Crim. App. 1986)." Pace, 714 So. 2d at 338. The Court concluded in Pace that "in this state, the function of a grand jury foreperson is almost entirely ministerial in nature, very similar to that of a federal grand jury foreperson." 714 So. 2d at 336.