THE STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA
In The Supreme Court
The State, Respondent,
Ricky George, Appellant.
Appeal From Horry County
Edward B. Cottingham, Judge
Opinion No. 24824
Heard May 12, 1998 - Filed July 27, 1998
Senior Assistant Appellate Defender Wanda H. Haile,
of South Carolina Office of Appellate Defense, of
Columbia; and William Isaac Diggs, of Myrtle Beach,
both, for appellant.
Attorney General Charles M. Condon, Deputy
Attorney General John W. McIntosh, Assistant
Deputy Attorney General Donald J. Zelenka., all of
Columbia; and Solicitor Ralph J. Wilson, of Conway,
all, for respondent.
TOAL, A.J.: Ricky George appeals from an order rejecting his claim
of an equal protection violation based on systematic exclusion of African
Americans in the Horry County grand jury selection process. We affirm.
STATE v. GEORGE
George was charged and convicted of murder, conspiracy to commit
murder, and armed robbery. He was sentenced to death. In State v. George,
323 S.C. 496, 476 S.E.2d 903 (1996), cert. denied, 117 S. Ct. 1261 (1997), we
affirmed George's conviction and sentence, but remanded the matter for an
inquiry about one issue, namely, George's allegation that the indictment in
the case was issued by a grand jury from which African Americans had been
excluded. On appeal, we observed that although the record contained no
statistical evidence to support George's claim that African Americans had
been systematically or deliberately excluded, it did appear that they were
underrepresented on the grand jury in this matter. Because the trial court
had denied George's request for a separate hearing to present data pertaining
to the disqualification of individual grand jurors in Horry County, we
concluded that George was denied the opportunity, as outlined in Castaneda
v. Partida, 430 U.S. 482, 97 S. Ct. 1272, 51 L. Ed. 2d 498 (1977), to provide
statistics comparing the proportion of African Americans in Horry County to
the proportion called to serve as grand jurors.
Accordingly, the matter was remanded to the circuit court to carry out
a factual inquiry about this issue, pursuant to the standard enunciated in
Castaneda. After remand, a hearing was conducted where evidence was
presented on whether African Americans had been systematically excluded
from the Horry County grand jury. The circuit court subsequently issued an
order finding there had been no discriminatory exclusion of African
Americans. George appeals that order.
George argues the circuit court erred in finding that no systematic
discrimination against African Americans existed within the Horry County
grand Jury selection process. We disagree.
George notes that his indictment was handed down by a grand jury
that included no African Americans. Additionally, no African Americans sat
on Horry County's grand jury for the period 1991-93. George's expert, Dr.
Albiniak, testified that the probability of this occurring was 1 in 5,000.
Further, George asserts that although African Americans represented 13% of
Horry County's population, only 7.5% of those summoned for grand jury
service during the 1991-96 period were African Americans. Based on this
statistical information, George argues that the circuit court erred in finding
no systematic exclusion.
STATE v. GEORGE
In Castaneda, the United States Supreme Court outlined the following
test to be utilized when a defendant makes a grand jury discrimination claim:
[I]n order to show that an equal protection violation has occurred
in the context of grand jury selection, the defendant must show
that the procedure employed resulted in substantial under-
representation of his race or of the identifiable group to which he
belongs. The first step is to establish that the group is one that
is a recognizable, distinct class, singled out for different
treatment under the laws, as written or as applied. Next, the
degree of underrepresentation must be proved, by comparing the
proportion of the group in the total population to the proportion
called to serve as grand jurors, over a significant period of time.
. . . Finally, . . . a selection procedure that is susceptible of
abuse or is not racially neutral supports the presumption of
discrimination raised by the statistical showing. Once the
defendant has shown substantial underrepresentation of his
group, he has made out a prima facie case of discriminatory
purpose, and the burden then shifts to the State to rebut that
Castaneda, 430 U.S. at 494-95, 97 S. Ct. at 1280, 51 L. Ed. 2d at 510-11
(citations omitted)(emphasis added).
Under the Castaneda test, it is undisputed that George satisfied the
first element of belonging to a group that is a recognizable, distinct class.
The second element of the Castaneda test is that the degree of
underrepresentation must be proved by comparing the proportion of the group
in the total population to the proportion called to serve as grand jurors, over
a significant period of time. Because Castaneda requires analysis of
underrepresentation over "a significant period of time," we must conduct our
examination based not on the 1991-93 figures, but rather the 1991-96 figures.
At first blush the statistical data mentioned above may raise the
specter of underrepresentation; however, a closer examination reveals that
George's statistical figures are seriously flawed. There are three major
problems with George's statistical argument. First, George's statistical
comparisons are based on an incorrect base figure. As indicated above,
George asserts that although African Americans represented 13% of Horry
County's population, only 7.5% of those summoned for grand jury service
during the 1991-96 period were African Americans. The problem with this
argument is that the 13% figure is not the percentage of Horry County's
STATE v. GEORGE
African American population that was eligible for jury duty, but rather the
percentage of African Americans who were registered to vote. The manner
in which grand juries are selected in South Carolina is as follows:
Each county receives a list of individuals who reside within that
county, who are over eighteen years of age, who hold a South
Carolina driver's license or identification card, and who are
United States citizens. This list is merged with the county list
of registered voters to establish the roll of eligible jurors for that
George, 323 S.C. at 506, 476 S.E.2d at 909 (citing S.C. Code Ann. § 14-7-130
(Supp. 1995)). In his statistical arguments George's expert witness based his
calculations on a 13% figure that constituted just the voter registration pool,
not the potential jury pool.1 In other words, the figure did not take into
account the statutory requirement of both the voter registration list and the
driver's license/identification card list. At the hearing, the circuit court raised
this question, but the question was not adequately addressed by the parties.
Because the base figure was incomplete and did not conform to the statutory
requirements, all of George's figures rest on a suspect foundation.
If the voter registration list information had been combined with the
driver's license/identification card list, then the figures may well have been
different. Without having this additional information, it is speculative to
suggest that the percentage of jurors selected of a particular race is
disproportionate to the percentage in the total population. George's expert
witness testified that he was not sure how the addition of the driver's
license/identification card records would have affected the base percentage of
The second major problem with George's statistical argument is that
the data does not take into account excusals. Even if the 13% figure is
presumed to be accurate, the greatest discrepancies between the population
figures and the juror figures appeared in the jurors actually selected, not in
the persons summoned. After the jurors were summoned, they were qualified
by the court. Jurors could be excused based on various factors. Such
1 We note that the circuit court's order incorrectly refers to Dr. Albiniak's
testimony concerning African Americans making up more than 13% of the
"voting and driving population." This statement -- that the percentage was
based on voting and driving population -- is directly contradicted by the
record, so we assume this was a scrivener's error.
STATE v. GEORGE
excusals may well have had an impact on the number of African Americans
jurors available for selection; however, George has not presented any evidence
as to who was excused, why they were excused, and whether there "was a
discrepancy between excusals for African Americans and whites. Dr. Albiniak
testified that he did not know how many of those in the jury pool were
excused for valid reasons.
The third major problem with George's statistical analysis is that it
fails to take into account holdover jurors. Dr. Albiniak's probability figures
were based on an independent selection of jurors for each year. However,
this is not a valid assessment because the selection of jurors was not entirely
independent each year, but depended to a significant degree on the
composition of the previous year's grand jury. One-third of the grand jury
was composed of jurors held over from the previous year's grand jury. See
S.C. Code Ann. § 14-7-1510 (Supp. 1997).2 Thus, if the 1991 grand jury was
all-white, then one-third of the seats on the 1992 jury would have definitely
been taken up by whites. Thus, there would have been only 12, not 18,
potential seats that would have been open for African American jurors.
George's statistical data did not in any way take this factor into account.
Assuming arguendo that George's statistical information was valid, the
discrepancies in this case are not comparable to those cases wherein equal
protection violations have been upheld. For example, in Castaneda, an equal
protection violation was found by the United States Supreme Court where
Mexican-Americans constituted over 79% of the population of a county, but,
over an 11-year period, only 39% of persons summoned for grand jury service
were Mexican-American. Castaneda, 430 U.S. 482, 97 S. Ct. 1272, 51 L. Ed.
2d 498; see Turner v. Fouche, 396 U.S. 346, 90 S. Ct. 532, 24 L. Ed. 2d 567
(1970)(blacks constituted 60% of the general population, but 37% on the
grand jury lists); Whitus v. Georgia, 385 U.S. 545, 87 S. Ct. 643, 17 L. Ed.
2d 599 (1967)(blacks listed on tax digest amounted to 27.1% of taxpayers, but
2 The statute provides:
During the last term of the court of general sessions held in each
county for any year six of the grand jurors then in service must.
be drawn as provided in this article who, together with twelve
grand jurors selected in the manner prescribed, shall constitute
the grand jury for the succeeding year. No person shall serve as
a grand juror for more than two consecutive years.
S.C. Code Ann. § 14-7-1510.
STATE v. GEORGE
only 9.1% on the grand jury venire); Sims v. Georgia, 389 U.S. 404, 88 S. Ct.
523, 19 L. Ed. 2d 634 (1967)(blacks made up 24.4% of taxpayers, but only
4.7% of those on grand jury lists). In contrast, this case presents a
comparison between 13% and 7.5%.
In Castaneda, the United States Supreme Court observed that as a
general rule for large samples, if the difference between the expected value
and the observed value is greater than two or three standard deviations,3
then the hypothesis that the jury drawing was random would be suspect to
a social scientist. Castaneda, 430 U.S. 482, 97 S. Ct. 1272, 51 L. Ed. 2d 498.
In this case, George's expert testified that for each year between 1991 and
1996, the standard deviation was less than three. With the exception of
1993, every year between 1991 and 1996 was statistically within tolerance
(i.e. the allowable deviation).
The third element of the Castaneda test is that "a selection procedure
that is susceptible of abuse or is not racially neutral supports the
presumption of discrimination raised by the statistical showing." Castaneda,
430 U.S. at 494, 97 S. Ct. at 1280, 51 L. Ed. 2d at 510-11. George argues
that the selection process is not racially neutral because although it may
produce random results in the long-run, it does not produce representative
juries in the short-term. This argument lacks persuasion because the
selection process needs only be race neutral; there is not a strict legal
requirement that every single jury be uniformly representative of the
population. Additionally, George argues that the excusal process could be
abused, but he does not offer evidence in support of this proposition.
Based on the foregoing, we conclude that George has not made a prima
facie showing under the Castaneda test. However, even if it is assumed that
George has made a prima facie showing of substantial underrepresentation,
then the burden shifts to the State to rebut that case. See Castaneda, 430
U.S. 482, 97 S. Ct. 1272, 51 L. Ed. 2d 498; Alexander v. Louisiana, 405 U.S.
625, 92 S. Ct. 1221, 31 L. Ed. 2d 536 (1972)(Once a prima facie case of
invidious discrimination is established, the burden of proof shifts to the State
to rebut the presumption of unconstitutional action by showing that
permissible racially neutral selection criteria and procedures have produced
the monochromatic result.). The State has met this burden.
Horry County follows a jury selection process based on statutory
3 The standard deviation is the measure of the predicted fluctuations
from the expected value.
STATE v. GEORGE
provisions, as well as on a plan submitted to, and approved by, the South
Carolina Supreme Court. The merging of the voter registration and driver's
license/identification card information is done by the South Carolina Budget
and Control Board. This list of potential jurors is prepared for the State
Election Commission, which forwards it to Horry County. This information,
in turn, is inputted into the local computer.
In Horry County, three jury commissioners -- composed of the Clerk of
Court, the Auditor, and the Treasurer -- gather and input their passwords
into the computer to request a jury list. The passwords must be entered by
each commissioner, and the commissioners do not know one another's
passwords. The computer generates a random listing of potential jurors,
based on the list forwarded by the State Election Commission. After the
computer generates the list of potential jurors, the commissioners send
notices to these individuals to appear before the court. In court, the Clerk
calls out the names of those on the list. The judge then qualifies the jurors,
determining if any excusals apply. Once the jurors are qualified, then the
Clerk starts reading sequentially the names left on the list, until reaching
the desired number of grand jurors (e.g. 18).
The commissioners testified that they could not alter the computer
functions. Additionally, they did not remove the names of any African
Americans from the jury list. The Clerk of Court testified that from 1991 to
1996, jurors were selected randomly through the use of the computer and
that none of the commissioners removed any persons from the list of jurors
or altered the computer list after it was printed. Further, no names were
added to the list. The circuit court found "beyond a reasonable doubt that
the procedure utilized by the jury commissioners in Horry County in the
selection of this Grand Jury follows exactly the law of this State."
Based on the evidence offered, the State has established that Horry
County uses race neutral selection criteria and procedures. In fact, the
system attempts to make the selection process as neutral and random as
possible. As the circuit court orally ruled: The "evidence and testimony in
this case is absolutely void of any inference or indication that any
skullduggery was used, that any abuse was used or that it was not racially
Thus, since George has not shown systematic exclusion of African
Americans from the Horry County grand jury, we conclude the circuit court's
order must be affirmed.
STATE v. GEORGE
Based on the foregoing, we AFFIRM the circuit court's order rejecting
George's claim of an equal protection violation.
FINNEY, C.J., MOORE, WALLER and BURNETT, JJ., concur.