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Ham v. South Carolina

United States Supreme Court
409 U.S. 524 (1973)


Facts

Ham (defendant) was convicted of marijuana possession. Ham was a bearded African American and worked as a civil rights activist. At his trial, Ham argued that the police were out to get him and that he had been framed for the drug charge. Before trial, Ham requested that during voir dire the judge ask the potential jurors two questions inquiring into whether they had any prejudice against African Americans, and one question inquiring into any prejudice they may have against people with beards. The trial judge denied the request and asked the potential jurors three general questions about biases or prejudices they may hold. Ham claims that in so doing, the trial court violated his constitutional rights. The state supreme court disagreed with Ham. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Rehnquist, J.)

Concurrence/Dissent (Douglas, J.)

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