Document Type


First Page

E. Supp. 69


In November of 1993, Diapolis Smith was convicted of second degree murder by an all-white jury in Kent County, Michigan. On appeal, Smith challenged the constitutionality of Kent County’s jury-selection procedure, claiming he had not been afforded his Sixth Amendment right to a jury drawn from a fair cross-section of the community. This Comment examines Smith’s claim and argues that the Supreme Court ultimately erred in ruling that Smith failed to make a prima facie case for a Sixth Amendment claim. First, this Comment argues that Smith presented sufficient evidence for the Court to draw a reasonable inference, under Duren v. Missouri, that Kent County’s jury-selection procedures systematically excluded African Americans. Second, in the face of extensive academic research that demonstrates the nexus between socioeconomic disparity and minority underrepresentation on juries, this Comment argues that the Supreme Court should be more amenable to claims that hinge on the presence of socioeconomic factors. Finally, this Comment addresses the consequences of the Berghuis v. Smith decision and the solutions to minority underrepresentation in jury venires.