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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. RONALD JONES (01/29/76)

decided: January 29, 1976.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, APPELLEE,
v.
RONALD JONES, APPELLANT



COUNSEL

Harold L. Randolph, Philadelphia, for appellant.

Stephen J. McEwen, Jr., Dist. Atty., Ralph B. D'Iorio, Anna I. Vadino, Asst. Dist. Attys., Media, for appellee.

Jones, C. J., and Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy and Manderino, JJ. Roberts, J., filed a concurring opinion. Manderino, J., filed a dissenting opinion. Nix, J., took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.

Author: Eagen

[ 465 Pa. Page 475]

OPINION OF THE COURT

On January 24, 1970, the appellant, Ronald Jones, was convicted by a jury in Delaware County of murder in the first degree, robbery, aggravated assault and battery, assault with intent to kill and conspiracy. Post trial motions were timely filed and denied. On the murder conviction, Jones was sentenced to life imprisonment, and an appeal to this Court from that judgment of sentence then followed.*fn1

Thereafter, on May 4, 1973, this Court determined the trial court had erred in its summary denial of Jones' pretrial petition challenging the array of the jury panel from which the trial jury had been selected. See Commonwealth v. Jones, 452 Pa. 299, 304 A.2d 684 (1973). We therein stated, "Our laws insure the accused a fair and impartial jury -- one chosen from a cross section of the community, and every effort must be afforded the accused to insure the body of citizens who sit in judgment must be selected in accordance with the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. If a defendant has grounds upon which he can challenge the system of selecting jurors, he must be given an opportunity to prove it." Id. at 313, 304 A.2d at 692. The record was remanded to the trial court to permit Jones "an

[ 465 Pa. Page 476]

    opportunity to properly present and establish his claim." Id. at 315, 304 A.2d at 693.*fn2

On July 18, 1973, an evidentiary hearing was held at which Jones was given an opportunity to present testimony and relevant factual data in support of his claim that the jury selection system used in Delaware County resulted in systematic discrimination because of race. After giving due consideration to the testimony and evidence presented at this hearing, the trial court concluded that Jones' contention was without merit. The record of this evidentiary hearing was then certified to this Court for further disposition.

It is not settled constitutional law that the Sixth Amendment's guarantee of an impartial jury trial in criminal prosecutions*fn3 mandates the presence of a fair cross section of the community on venires, panels or lists from which petit juries are chosen. Taylor v. Louisiana, 419 U.S. 522, 95 S.Ct. 692, 42 L.Ed.2d 690 (1975). As stated in Taylor v. Louisiana, supra:

"The purpose of a jury is to guard against the exercise of arbitrary power -- to make available the commonsense judgment of the community as a hedge against the overzealous or mistaken prosecutor and in preference to the professional or perhaps overconditioned or biased response of a judge [Cite ...


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