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Entry from July 27, 2013
Texas Shuffle (jury selection)

The “Texas shuffle” (also called the “Texas jury shuffle” or “jury shuffle”) was made illegal by the U.S. Supreme Court in Miller-El v. Dretke (2005). Texas had allowed the prosecution of a murder trial to demand that a jury list be re-ordered. People at the top of the list sit in front and are more likely to be selected as jurors. The “Texas shuffle” used by the prosecution in Miller-El v. Dretke had eliminated most African-Americans (10 of 11) from the jury.
“Jury shuffle” was cited in describing the case in 2003; “Abolishing the Texas Jury Shuffle” was the title of a law review paper published in 2003-04. “Texas Shuffle” was cited in print in 2007.
Wikipedia: Miller-El v. Dretke
Miller-El v. Dretke, 545 U.S. 231 (2005), is a United States Supreme Court case that clarified the constitutional limitations on the use by prosecutors of peremptory challenges and of the Texas procedure appropriately termed the “jury shuffle.”
Thomas Miller-El was charged with capital murder committed in the course of a robbery. After voir dire, Miller-El moved to strike the entire jury because the prosecution had used its peremptory challenges to strike ten of the eleven African-Americans who were eligible to serve on the jury. This motion was denied, and Miller-El was subsequently found guilty and sentenced to death.
High court finds prosecutors acted with ‘race bias’
From Bill Mears
CNN Washington Bureau
Tuesday, February 25, 2003 Posted: 3:07 PM EST (2007 GMT)
By an 8-1 margin, the justices ruled district attorneys in Dallas employed “race-based” challenges to exclude 10 of 11 African-Americans eligible to serve as jurors on the 1986 capital murder case.
Citing “the prosecution’s use of the jury shuffle and the historical evidence of racial discrimination by the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office,” the court determined Thomas Joe Miller-El’s constitutional right to a fair trial had been violated.

An Unusual Dissent By Justice Clarence Thomas In a Case Alleging the Use of Race-Based Challenges During Jury Selection Shows His Willful Blindness On Race Issues
Thursday, Mar. 13, 2003
Evidence of Discriminatory Intent: “Jury Shuffles” and “For Cause” Challenges
In 1986, Miller-El was indicted by the State of Texas for capital murder. He pleaded not guilty. The evidence strongly suggested that the jury selection process in his case was racially discriminatory.
It started with the “jury shuffles.” Texas law authorizes a “jury shuffle” process in which either the State or the defense may, without explanation, demand that the jury pool list be re-ordered. (For reasons particular to Texas, potential jurors are much more likely to be selected if they are toward the top of the list.)
On two occasions, the prosecution requested a jury shuffle when a substantial number of African-Americans were at the top of the list. On another occasion, the prosecution went so far as to lodge a formal complaint after the defense requested a reshuffling that moved prospective African-Americans jurors forward
35 St. Mary’s L.J. 303 (2003-2004)
Abolishing the Texas Jury Shuffle; Gallgher, Michael M. 
New York (NY) Times
Prosecutorial Racial Bias in Texas
Published: June 14, 2005
At the start of the third week of jury selection in the murder trial of Thomas Miller-El, the first four prospective jurors up for questioning were black. The prosecutors requested a “jury shuffle,” a procedure allowed under Texas law that rearranges the order of the prospective jurors who are waiting to be questioned. After the shuffle, the four blacks were sent to the back of the room, a position that made it more likely that they would never be questioned or allowed to serve.
That suspicious act was one of many apparently race-based decisions that the Supreme Court relied on yesterday to set aside Mr. Miller-El’s conviction. It ruled that the prosecutors denied him a fair trial by discriminating against black prospective jurors. It is an important ruling that reiterates to all courts the importance of keeping discrimination out of jury selection.
PBS—Independent Lens
February 20, 2007
Miller-El v. Cockrell, 2003
In Texas, black defendant Thomas Miller-El pleaded not guilty and was convicted and sentenced to death for murder committed in the course of a robbery. He argued that the prosecution had violated his constitutional rights by excluding African Americans from serving on the jury, striking 10 of the 11 black potential jurors.
He petitioned the Supreme Court, which ruled in Miller-El’s favor, stating that he should have been given the opportunity to prove that his sentence was the result of discriminatory jury practices, which included the “Texas shuffle” method of eliminating black jurors and a training memo that instructed prosecutors on how to skew juries on the basis of race.
The Hammill Post (Ocala, Florida)
Race May Be an Issue in Texas Woman’s Execution
By Bill Amos on July 1, 2013.
As recently as 2005, the Supreme Court set aside a murder conviction in the case of Miller-El v. Dretke handed down by a Texas court. They judged apparent the prosecutors had engaged in what is called the “Texas Shuffle”. This is the process by which the order of prospective jurors is arranged so that people of color are sent to the back of the line.

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • Saturday, July 27, 2013 • Permalink

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