SUPERME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES
391 U.S. 145
May 20, 1968, Decided
On October 18, 1966, the appellant, Gary Duncan, was driving on Highway 23 in Plaquemines Parish when he saw his two younger African-American cousins were talking with four white boys on the side of the road. The Appellant knew his cousins had recently transferred to a school which had been reported the encouraged his cousins to break off the encounter and enter his car, and the Appellant was about to enter the car himself for the purpose of driving away with his cousins. The white boys testified that just before getting in the car the Appellant slapped Herman Landry, one of the white boys, on the elbow. The Appellant and his cousins stated that the Appellant merely touched the boy. The Appellant was convicted with simple battery. He sought trial by jury but his request was denied. The trial judge concluded that the State had proved beyond a reasonable doubt that the Appellant had committed simple battery, and found him guilty. The Appellant sought review in the Supreme Court of Louisiana, asserting that the denial of jury trial violated rights guaranteed to him by the United State Constitution. The Supreme Court denied Appellant a writ of certiorari.
Is it available that a crime carrying a penalty and imprisonment at hard labor violate in the United State Constitution?
The Constitution was violated when the Appellant’s demand for jury trial was refused. Mr. Justice White delivered the opinion of the Supreme Court of the United State. The right to trial by jury in criminal proceeding is “fundamental principles of liberty and justice which lie at the base of all our civil and political institutions,” and it is “basic in our system of jurisprudence,” and it is “a fundamental right, essential to a fair trial.” The right of trial by jury in serious criminal cases works as a defense against arbitrary law enforcement and qualifies for protection under the Due Process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the constitution. But the Supreme Court would not assert that every criminal trial held before a judge alone is unfair or that a defendant may never be as fairly treated by a judge as he would be by a jury. The right to a jury trial very likely serves its intended purpose of making judicial or prosecutorial unfairness less