BlackFacts Details

Williams v. Mississippi (1898)


Submitted March 18, 1898.

Decided April 25, 1898.

At June term 1896 of the Circuit Court of Washington County, Mississippi, the plaintiff in error was indicted by a grand jury composed entirely of white men for the crime of murder. On the 15th day of June he made a motion to quash the indictment, which was in substance as follows, omitting repetitions and retaining the language of the motion as nearly as possible:

Now comes the defendant in this cause, Henry Williams by name, and moves the Circuit Court of Washington County, Mississippi, to quash the indictment herein filed and upon which it is proposed to try him for the alleged offence of murder:

1. Because the laws by which the grand jury was selected, organized, summoned and charged, which presented the said indictment, are unconstitutional and repugnant to the spirit and letter of the Constitution of the United States of America, Fourteenth Amendment thereof, in this, that the Constitution prescribes the qualifications of electors, and that to be a juror one must be an elector; that the Constitution also requires that those offering to vote shall produce to the election officers satisfactory evidence that they have paid their taxes; that the legislature is to provide means for enforcing the Constitution, and in the exercise of this authority enacted section 3643, also section 3644 of 1892, which respectively provide that the election commissioners shall appoint three election managers, and that the latter shall be judges of the qualifications of electors, and are required to examine on oath any person duly registered and offering to vote touching his qualifications as an elector. And then the motion states that the registration roll is not prima facie evidence of an electors right to vote, but the list of those persons having been passed upon by the various district election managers of the county to compose the registration book of voters as named in section 2358 of said code of 1892, and that there was no registration books of voters

Education Facts