Excluding Cognizable Group from Jury Service Case
The Supreme Court decided Taylor v. Louisiana (1975) 419 U.S. 522 [95 S. Ct. 692, 42 L. Ed. 2d 690], in which it did not base its decision on the equal protection clause at all, but instead held that the Sixth Amendment's guarantee of a jury venire representative of the community prohibited exclusion of women from such venires based upon their gender.
Taylor was the culmination of the line of decisions upon which the California Supreme Court based its decision in People v. Wheeler.
In People v. Wheeler (1978) 22 Cal. 3d 258 [148 Cal. Rptr. 890, 583 P.2d 748], court held that in state criminal prosecutions the right to trial by a jury drawn from a 'representative cross-section of the community' is guaranteed equally and independently by the Sixth Amendment to the federal Constitution and by article I, section 16, of the California Constitution, and that such right is violated when a 'cognizable group' within the community is systematically excluded from jury service." ( Rubio v. Superior Court (1979) 24 Cal. 3d 93, 97 [154 Cal. Rptr. 734, 593 P.2d 595].)
Taylor was convicted under a Louisiana system of jury selection which provided that no woman would be called for jury service unless she had first submitted a written declaration of her desire to serve.
It was stipulated that under that system, women made up fewer than 10 percent of the jury venires in the parish at issue, although they represented 53 percent of its population. Taylor's jury venire of 175 included no women.
The Supreme Court held, "The unmistakable import of this Court's opinions . . . is that the selection of a petit jury from a representative cross section of the community is an essential component of the Sixth Amendment right to a jury trial" ( Taylor v. Louisiana, supra, 419 U.S. at p. 528 [95 S. Ct. at p. 697]), and that the systematic exclusion of women from the jury venire violated that right.
It said: "The purpose of a jury is to guard against the exercise of arbitrary power to make available the commonsense judgment of the community as a hedge against the overzealous or mistaken prosecutor and in preference to the professional or perhaps overconditioned or biased response of a judge.
This prophylactic vehicle is not provided if the jury pool is made up of only special segments of the populace or if large, distinctive groups are excluded from the pool.
Community participation in the administration of the criminal law, moreover, is not only consistent with our democratic heritage but is also critical to public confidence in the fairness of the criminal justice system.
Restricting jury service to only special groups or excluding identifiable segments playing major roles in the community cannot be squared with the constitutional concept of jury trial.
'Trial by jury presupposes a jury drawn from a pool broadly representative of the community as well as impartial in a specific case. . . . the broad representative character of the jury should be maintained, partly as assurance of a diffused impartiality and partly because sharing in the administration of justice is a phase of civic responsibility.' " ( Id. at pp. 530-531 [95 S. Ct. at p. 698], quoting from Justice Frankfurter's dissent in Thiel v. Southern Pacific Co. (1946) 328 U.S. 217, 227 [66 S. Ct. 984, 989, 90 L. Ed. 1181, 166 A.L.R. 1412].)