Strauder v. West Virginia, 100 U.S. 303 (1879). The U.S. Supreme Court held that a West Virginia law restricting jury service to "all white male persons" violated the equal protection rights of blacks under the Fourteenth Amendment, and that service on a jury could not be restricted by race. In the same year, however, the Court also held in Virginia v. Rives, 100 U.S. 313 (1880) that a right to be considered for jury service was not the same as the right to serve on a jury. In practice, this meant that blacks were routinely excluded from actual jury service until the 1960s and beyond.
Sheppard v. Maxwell, 384 U.S. 333 (1966). In 1954, Sam Sheppard, a Cleveland doctor, was accused of killing his wife (this case inspired "The Fugitive," the TV and later, film, drama). Sheppard was examined for hours, without counsel, in a televised inquest. Potential evidence and the question of whether he was guilty were the subject of intense media scrutiny. During trial, the jury was not sequestered. The circumstances of Sheppard's trial eventually made their way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which held that Sheppard's Sixth Amendment right to a fair trial by an impartial jury had been violated. In its ruling, the Court cited the principle that "the jury's verdict be based on evidence received in open court, not from outside sources."
Duncan v. Louisiana, 391 U.S. 145 (1968). Applying the Fourteenth Amendment's due process guarantee to the states, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the constitutional guarantee of trial by jury in serious criminal cases under the Sixth Amendment was 'fundamental to the American scheme of justice' and that the state of Louisiana had to provide such a trial even for criminal offenses such as Duncan's.
Witherspoon v. Illinois, 391 U.S. 510 (1968). The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that general opposition to the death penalty was not a sufficient reason to exclude a person from service on a capital jury. As a result of this ruling, which has been upheld by the Court, jury service in capital cases can be limited to people who agree that they would be willing to consider the death penalty in a particular case, regardless of their personal beliefs. Those who are adamantly opposed to capital punishment–" Witherspoon excludables"–however, can be excluded from service.
Johnson v. Louisiana, 406 U.S. 356, and Apodaca v. Oregon, 406 U.S. 404 (1972). The U.S. Supreme Court found that the Sixth Amendment guarantee of a jury trial, made applicable to the states by the Fourteenth Amendment, does not require that the jury's vote be unanimous.
Taylor v. Louisiana, 419 U.S. 522 (1975). The U.S. Supreme Court held that states could not systematically exclude women from jury service. Until this decision, Louisiana state law had provided that women would be automatically excluded from jury service unless they had filed a written declaration of their willingness to serve.
Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79 (1986). Batson, a black man, was on trial in Kentucky for burglary and receipt of stolen goods. The prosecutor used peremptory challenges to eliminate all four of the black prospective jurors, resulting in an all-white jury. That jury convicted Batson. The U.S. Supreme Court held that jurors of a particular race cannot be purposefully excluded from jury service. Doing so violates the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments. The Court also affirmed earlier holdings that no one has a constitutional right to be tried, in whole or in part, by jurors of the same race.
Apprendi v. New Jersey, 520 U.S. 466 (2000). Charles Apprendi fired several gunshots into the home of an African-American family. Charged under New Jersey law with possession of a firearm, he pled guilty to that charge. The prosecutor then filed a motion to enhance his sentence under the state's hate-crime statute. The judge found, by a preponderance of the evidence, that his crime was racially motivated and increased his sentence beyond the prescribed maximum for the original charge. Apprendi appealed, arguing that a bias finding must be proved to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt. The U.S. Supreme Court agreed, holding that the New Jersey hate-crime law violated the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Blakely v. Washington, Docket No. 02-1632, 2004. Citing its decision in Apprendi, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that facts increasing the penalty for a crime beyond the prescribed statutory maximum must be submitted to a jury and proved beyond a reasonable doubt. This decision ruled unconstitutional a Washington state law allowing judges to impose sentences above standard maximums if they find "substantial and compelling" reasons' for doing so.