OCTOBER TERM, 2001
UNITED STATES v. BASS
on petition for writ of certiorari to the united states court of appeals for the sixth circuit
No. 01-1471. Decided June 28, 2002
Claiming that the United States filed a notice of intent to seek the death penalty in respondent's capital murder case because of his race, respondent moved to dismiss the notice and, in the alternative, for discovery of information relating to the Government's capital charging practices. The District Court granted his discovery motion and dismissed the notice after the Government said that it would not comply with the discovery order. The Sixth Circuit affirmed.
Held: The Sixth Circuit's decision is contrary to United States v. Armstrong, 517 U. S. 456, 465, in which this Court held that a defendant seeking discovery on a selective prosecution claim must show some evidence of both discriminatory effect and discriminatory intent. As to evidence of discriminatory effect, a defendant must make a credible showing that similarly situated individuals of a different race were not prosecuted. Id., at 465, 470. The Sixth Circuit concluded that respondent had made such a showing based on nationwide statistics demonstrating that the Government charges blacks with a death-eligible offense more than twice as often as it charges whites and that it enters into plea bargains more frequently with whites than with blacks. Even assuming that a nationwide showing can satisfy the Armstrong requirement, raw statistics regarding overall charges say nothing about charges brought against similarly situated defendants. And the plea bargain statistics are even less relevant, since respondent declined the plea bargain offered him.
Certiorari granted; 266 F. 3d 532, reversed.
A federal grand jury sitting in the Eastern District of Michigan returned a second superseding indictment charging respondent with, inter alia, the intentional firearm killings of two individuals. The United States filed a notice of intent to seek the death penalty. Respondent, who is black, alleged that the Government had determined to seek the death penalty against him because of his race. He moved to dis-Page: Index 1 2 3 Next
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