Edmonson v. Leesville Concrete Company

Edmonson v. Leesville Concrete Company

Litigants=Edmonson v. Leesville Concrete Company
ArgueDate=January 15
DecideDate=June 3
FullName=Edmonson v. Leesville Concrete Company
Holding=Race-based use of peremptory challenges violates due process.
JoinMajority=White, Marshall, BLackmun, Stevens, Souter
JoinDissent=Rehnquist, Scalia

"Edmonson v. Leesville Concrete Company", 500 U.S. 614 (1991), [ [http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?navby=CASE&court=US&vol=500&page=614 500 U.S. 614] Full text of the opinion courtesy of Findlaw.com.] was a case in which the Supreme Court of the United States held that peremptory challenges may not be used to exclude jurors on the basis of race in civil trials. "Edmonson" extended the court's similar decision in "Batson v. Kentucky", a criminal case. The court applied the equal protection part of the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment in finding that such race-based challenges violated the Constitution.


A black construction worker, Thaddeus Donald Edmonson, was injured during work on federal property. He sued Leesville Concrete Company for negligence leading to his injuries. During jury selection, Leesville used two of their three peremptory challenges on black jurors, leaving a panel of twelve with one African-American. Edmonson, citing "Batson" requested that the trial court require Leesville give a race-neutral reason for the peremptory challenges of black jurors, but the court refused. The jury found that Leesville was responsible for 20% of Edmonson's injury and awarded him $18,000. The Fifth Circuit Appellate Court reversed the decision, holding that parties become state actors during jury selection, and so "Batson" requires race-neutral selection in civil cases. When the Fifth Circuit reheard the case en banc, they affirmed the original District Court decision. Recognizing a circuit split, the Supreme Court granted certiorari.


Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the opinion for the majority. Kennedy began with a long line of cases where the court held that racial discrimination was impermissible in jury selection before a "criminal" trial. He then pointed out that although the court had never indicated such discrimination was permitted in a civil trial, either, it also holds that federal law restrains the actions of government, not private actors. To decide whether to apply federal law, Kennedy applied a two-part test from "Lugar v. Edmondson Oil Co" ussc|457|922|1982. The first part of the test is whether the constitutional deprivation, in this case the right to a fair and impartial jury, resulted from a right rooted in state authority. Kennedy found, almost summarily, that peremptory challenges' intimate role in shaping a jury meant the case met the first part of the test. The second part of the test is whether the private party, Leesville and its counsel, was acting as a "state actor".

In determining whether the Leesville was acting as a state actor, Kennedy considered three issues and relevant precedent. The first issue was whether the actor relies on governmental assistance, and Kennedy found that the system of jury selection clearly existed within the sphere of judicial proceedings and would not be possible without the assistance of the judge and all other constituent elements of the institution. The second consideration was whether the actor is performing a traditional function of government. Kennedy first found that the jury was clearly performing a traditional function of government by serving as the finder-of-fact in a civil trial. Second, he drew a parallel between jury selection and elections, indicating that Constitutional constraints apply to all the machinery involved in choosing representatives and juries (such as when parties control primary elections). This is unlike any other aspect of civil litigation, none of which involve a government function like jury selection. The third consideration was whether the injury caused was aggravated in a unique way by the incidents of governmental authority. Kennedy said racial discrimination inside the courtroom diminishes the integrity of the courts and "compounds the racial insult" of discrimination. [500 U.S. 614, 628]

The next part of Kennedy's opinion dealt with the question of whether litigants could raise violations of jurors' rights on their behalf. The relevant precedent in that consideration was "Powers v. Ohio" ussc|499|400|1991, a similar case that dealt with race-based exclusion of jurors during jury selection in a criminal trial. In "Powers", the court held that litigants generally cannot make a claim due to violations of others' rights, except where the litigant has suffered an injury the courts can resolve, has a close relation with the third party, and the third party is hindered in protecting his or her own interests. [499 U.S. 400, 410] Kennedy held that all three conditions were met in Edmonson's case, including the resolvable injury. The concrete resolvable injury arose, in Kennedy's view, whenever racial discrimination took place within criminal or civil trials.

The court didn't make a holding regarding whether prima facie evidence of racial discrimination in Edmonson's case actually existed, but remanded the case for the trial court to decide that issue.


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Игры ⚽ Поможем сделать НИР

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Georgia v. McCollum — Infobox SCOTUS case Litigants = Georgia v. McCollum ArgueDate = February 26 ArgueYear = 1992 DecideDate = June 18 DecideYear = 1992 FullName = Georgia, Petitioner v. Thomas McCollum, William Joseph McCollum and Ella Hampton McCollum USVol = 505… …   Wikipedia

  • Batson v. Kentucky — Infobox SCOTUS case Litigants=Batson v. Kentucky ArgueDate=December 12 ArgueYear=1985 DecideDate=April 30 DecideYear=1986 FullName=Batson v. Kentucky USVol=476 USPage=79 Citation=476 U.S. 79; 106 S. Ct. 1712; 90 L. Ed. 2d 69; 1986 U.S. LEXIS 150; …   Wikipedia

  • Scientific jury selection — Scientific jury selection, often abbreviated SJS, is the use of social science techniques and expertise to choose favorable juries during a criminal or civil trial. Scientific jury selection is used during the jury selection phase of the trial… …   Wikipedia

  • J.E.B. v. Alabama ex rel. T.B. — SCOTUSCase Litigants=J. E. B. v. Alabama ex rel. T. B. ArgueDate=November 2 ArgueYear=1993 DecideDate=April 19 DecideYear=1994 FullName= J. E. B., Petitioner v. Alabama ex rel. T. B. USVol=511 USPage=127 Citation=114 S.Ct. 1419, 64 Empl. Prac.… …   Wikipedia

  • Communications Workers of America v. Beck — Supreme Court of the United States Argued January 11, 1988 …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”