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Opinion of the Court.
list the names of qualified persons of good intelligence, sound judgment and fair character, and shall take them, as nearly as it conveniently can, from the several election districts, in proportion to the number of the qualified persons in each, excluding all who have served on the regular panel within two years, if there be not a deficiency of jurors.” Sec. 2361. “The names of the persons on the jury list shall be written on separate slips of paper by the clerk of the Circuit Court, and put in a box kept for that purpose, marked ‘Jury box,' which shall be securely locked and kept closed and sealed, except when opened to draw the jurors.” Sec. 2365. “At each regular term of the Circuit Court, and at a special term if necessary, the judge shall draw, in open court, from the jury box the slips containing the names of fifty jurors to serve as grand and petit jurors for the first week and thirty to serve as petit jurors for each subsequent week of the next succeeding term of the court; and he shall make and carefully preserve separate lists of the names, and shall not disclose the name of any juror drawn. The slips containing the names so drawn shall be placed by the judge in envelopes, a separate one for each week, and he shall securely seal and deliver them to the clerk of the court, so marked as to indicate which contains the names of the jurors for the first and each subsequent week. If in drawing it appears that any juror drawn has died, removed or ceased to be qualified or liable to serve as a juror, the judge shall cause the slip containing the name to be destroyed, the name to be stricken from the jury list, and he shall draw another name to complete the required number."
The contention of the accused is that the constitution of the State (Sec. 283) required that the indictment against him should have been by a jury of the grand inquest organized as directed in the Code of 1880, because that code was in force at the date of the murder charged to have been committed ; and that the law upon that subject in the Code of 1892 would be ex post facto if applied to his case.
We perceive in these constitutional and statutory provisions nothing upon which to rest the suggestion that the accused was tried under a law that was ex post facto in its application
Opinion of the Court.
to his case. At the time the homicide was committed no person was competent to be a grand or petit juror unless he was a qualified elector and able to read and write. This requirement was attended by an injunction that the legislature should provide by law for procuring a list of persons so qualified, and for drawing therefrom of grand and petit jurors for each term of the Circuit Court. Miss. Const. Sec. 264. And, as we have seen, it was further provided that all crimes and misdemeanors and penal actions should be tried, prosecuted and punished as though no change had taken place until otherwise provided by law. Miss. Const. Sec. 283. It is clear that the provision in the constitution of 1890 prescribing the qualifications of grand and petit jurors became the law of the State immediately upon the adoption of the constitution, and that legislation was not necessary to give it effect; and that the provisions of the Code of 1880 for the conduct of trials were superseded by those on the same subject in the Code of 1892.
It is equally clear that the provisions of the Code of 1892 regulating the selection of grand and petit jurors were not ex post facto as to the case of Gibson, although they were not in force when the alleged homicide was committed. The requirement of the constitution of 1890 that no person should be a grand or petit juror unless he was a qualified elector and able to read and write did not prevent the legislature from providing, as was done in the Code of 1892, that persons selected for jury service should possess good intelligence, sound judgment and fair character. Such regulations are always within the power of a legislature to establish unless forbidden by the constitution. They tend to secure the proper administration of justice and are in the interest, equally, of the public and of persons accused of crime. We do not perceive that the Code of 1892, in force when the indictment was found, affected in any degree the substantial rights of those who had committed crime prior to its going into effect. It did not make criminal and punishable any act that was innocent when committed, nor aggravate any crime previously committed, nor inflict a greater punishment than the law annexed to such crime at the time of its com
Opinion of the Court.
mission, nor alter the legal rules of evidence in order to convict the offender. These are the general tests for determining whether a statute is applicable to offences committed prior to its passage. Calder v. Bull, 3 Dall. 386, 390; Cummings v. Missouri, 4 Wall. 277; Ex parte Garland, 4 Wall. 333; Kring v. Missouri, 107 U. S. 221, 228; Duncan v. Missouri, 152 U. S. 377, 382. The provisions in question related simply to procedure. They only prescribed remedies to be pursued in the administration of the law, making no change that could materially affect the rights of one accused of crime theretofore committed. The inhibition upon the passage of ex post facto laws does not give a criminal a right to be tried, in all respects, by the law in force when the crime charged was committed. The mode of trial is always under legislative control, subject only to the condition that the legislature may not, under the guise of establishing modes of procedure and prescribing remedies, violate the accepted principles that protect an accused person against ex post facto enactments. In Hopt v. Utah, 110 U. S. 574, 589, a statute that permitted the crime charged to be established by witnesses who by the law at the time the offence was committed were incompetent to testify in any case whatever was adjudged not to be ex post facto within the meaning of the Constitution, the court observing that such a statute did not increase the punishment nor change the ingredients of the offence nor the ultimate facts necessary to establish guilt, but related “to modes of procedure only, in which no one can be said to have a vested right, and which the State, upon grounds of public policy, may regulate at pleasure.” Hence it has been held that a general statute giving the government more challenges than it had at the time of the commission of a particular offence was constitutional. Walston v. Commonwealth, 16 B. Mon. 15, 39.
It is also assigned for error : 1. That the court ordered the sheriff "to summon fifty men from the good and lawful body of Washington county,” etc., when he should have been ordered to summon "persons qualified as jurors," or "said fifty men, jurors as required by law.” 2. That the order
Opinion of the Court.
directed the sheriff to “summon said fifty men to serve as special jurors in the case of State v. John Gibson, when the order should have directed the sheriff to summon fifty men or persons as jurors, and to serve as jurors in the case of the State v. John Gibson as special jurors.” Without stopping to consider whether the particular order complained of was in accordance with correct practice, it is only necessary to say that the objection presented by the assignment of error raises no question
✓ of a Federal nature. The conduct of a criminal trial in a state court cannot be reviewed by this court unless the trial is had under some statute repugnant to the Constitution of the United States, or was so conducted as to deprive the accused of some right or immunity secured to him by that instrument. Mere error in administering the criminal law of a State or in the conduct of a criminal trial — no Federal right being invaded or denied — is beyond the revisory power of this court under the statutes regulating its jurisdiction. See Andrews v. Swartz, 156 U. S. 272, 276 ; Bergemann v. Backer, 157 U. S. 655,
Indeed, it would not be competent for Congress to confer such power upon this or any other court of the United States.
We may observe that the former decisions of this court, upon which the counsel for the accused relied with much confidence, do not go to the extent claimed by them. Underlying all of those decisions is the principle that the Constitution of the United States, in its present form, forbids, so far as civil and political rights are concerned, discrimination by the General Government, or by the States, against any citizen because of his race. All citizens are equal before the law. The guarantees of life, liberty and property are for all persons, within the jurisdiction of the United States, or of any State, without discrimination against any because of their race. 'Those guarantees, when their violation is properly presented in the regular course of proceedings, must be enforced in the courts, both of the Nation and of the State, without reference to considerations based upon race. In the administration of criminal justice no rule can be applied to one class which is not applicable to all other classes. The safety of the race the
larger part of which was recently in slavery, lies in a rigid adherence to those principles. Their safety – indeed, the peace of the country and the liberties of all — would be imperilled, if the judicial tribunals of the land permitted any departure from those principles based upon discrimination against a particular class because of their race. We recognize the possession of all these rights by the defendant; but upon a careful consideration of all the points of which we can take cognizance, and which have been so forcibly presented by his counsel, who are of his race, and giving him the full benefit of the salutary principles heretofore announced by this court in the cases cited in his behalf, we cannot find from the record before
us that his rights secured by the supreme law of the land were > violated by the trial court or disregarded by the highest court
of Mississippi. We cannot say that any error of law of which this court may take cognizance was committed by the courts
of the State, nor, as matter of law, that the conviction of the accused of the crime of murder was due to prejudice of race. The judgment is, therefore,
CHARLEY SMITH V. MISSISSIPPI.
ERROR TO THE SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI.
No. 710. Argued and submitted December 13, 16, 1895. - Decided April 18, 1896.
An affidavit to a petition for removal filed under section 641 of the Revised
Statutes, to the effect that the facts therein stated are true to the best of the knowledge and belief of the accused, is not evidence in support of a motion to quash the indictment, unless the prosecutor agrees that it may be so used, or unless by the order of the trial court it is treated
as evidence. A motion to quash an indictment against a person of African descent upon
the ground that it was found by a grand jury from which were excluded because of their race persons of the race to which the accused belongs can be sustained only by evidence independently of the facts stated in the motion to quash.