responsible for everything that you post. In numerous decisions, this Court has held that it is a denial of the equal protection of the laws to try a defendant of a particular race or color under an indictment issued by a grand jury, or before a petit jury, from which all persons of his race or color have, solely because of that race or color, been excluded by the State, whether acting through its legislature, its courts, or its executive or administrative officers. The petitioner, Pete Hernandez, was indicted for the murder of one Joe Espinosa by a grand jury in Jackson County, Texas. may result in removed comments. They argued that Hernandez was entitled to a jury “of his peers” and that systematic exclusion of Mexican Americans violated constitutional law. When the existence of a distinct class is demonstrated, and it is further shown that the laws, as written or as applied, single out that class for different treatment not based on some reasonable classification, the guarantees of the Constitution have been violated. In a unanimous ruling, the court held that Mexican Americans and all other nationality groups in the United States have equal protection under the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. You make a valid point. Whether such a group exists within a community is a question of fact. Hernandez was convicted by an all-white jury. Featured presenters included the Honorable Hilda G. Tagle, Senior Judge of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas and Ms. Verónica Villalobos, Director, Office of Diversity and inclusion with the Office of Personnel Management. good research. To do so, he relied on the pattern of proof established by Norris v. State of Alabama. She had a brief practice in Houston, and then was elected DA of Willacy County for 29 years). ]. Before the ruling, Mexican Americans were officially classified as white but faced overt discrimination and segregation. In 1950 Pete Hernández, a migrant cotton picker, was accused of murdering Joe Espinosa in Edna, Texas, a small town in Jackson County, where no person of Mexican origin had served on a jury for at least twenty-five years. While it cannot be disputed that this was a significant group, to narrow the focus along a racial binary exacts its own marginalization on another people and their history—after all, theirs too is part of the collective American history. Links to external Internet sites on Library of Congress Web pages do not constitute the Library's endorsement of the content of their Web sites or of their policies or products. To this much, he is entitled by the Constitution. Inspector General | Legal | Accessibility | External Link Disclaimer | USA.gov, Colored Men and Hombres Aquí: Hernández v. Texas and the Emergence of Mexican American Lawyering. After the original guilty verdict was upheld by the Texas Court … Thank you! Another class of people made a significant contribution to and were a driving force behind the instrument that celebrates an opulent half century. Here the testimony of responsible officials and citizens contained the admission that residents of the community distinguished between “white” and “Mexican.” The participation of persons of Mexican descent in business and community groups was shown to be slight. I only have one question: who were the important Hispanic women in the civil rights movement? Throughout our history differences in race and color have defined easily identifiable groups which have at times required the aid of the courts in securing equal treatment under the laws. To this much, he is entitled by the Constitution.” In a nutshell, this case secured that all racial groups in the United States have equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment. His lawyers appealed. Although the Court has had little occasion to rule on the question directly, it has been recognized since Strauder v. State of West Virginia, that the exclusion of a class of persons from jury service on grounds other than race or color may also deprive a defendant who is a member of that class of the constitutional guarantee of equal protection of the laws. Katzew, Ilona and Susan Deans-Smith, eds. Pete Hernandez, a migrant worker, was tried for the murder of his employer, Joe Espinosa, in Edna, Texas, in 1950. Having established the existence of a class, petitioner was then charged with the burden of proving discrimination. These are excellent suggestions, but no one of the Hernandez insider group was a Mexican American woman lawyer. The County Tax Assessor testified that 6 or 7 percent of the freeholders on the tax rolls of the County were persons of Mexican descent. Among the aforementioned are the lawyers who successfully navigated the racially tense waters that engulfed the Hernández v. Texas case. This blog is governed by the general rules of respectful civil discourse. The ruling was … At least one restaurant in town prominently displayed a sign announcing “No Mexicans Served.” On the courthouse grounds at the time of the hearing, there were two men’s toilets, one unmarked, and the other marked “Colored Men” and “Hombres Aqui” (“Men Here”). As the merits of this case are many, I would encourage readers to do further exploration. In 1950, Pete Hernandez was charged with murder and found guilty by an all-white jury in Jackson County, Texas. Please read our Standard Disclaimer. Nevertheless, Prior to the trial, the petitioner, by his counsel, offered timely motions to quash the indictment and the jury panel. In that case, proof that Negroes constituted a substantial segment of the population of the jurisdiction, that some Negroes were qualified to serve as jurors, and that none had been called for jury service over an extended period of time, was held to constitute prima facie proof of the systematic exclusion of Negroes from jury service. But community prejudices are not static, and from time to time other differences from the community norm may define other groups which need the same protection. Until very recent times, children of Mexican descent were required to attend a segregated school for the first four grades. Ms. Villalobos spoke on the notion of civil rights within a contemporary context. privilege to post content on the Library site. A good start is PBS’s American Experience series, as it covers the case of Hernández v. Texas in an episode titled “A Class Apart.” An indispensable source of information is Michael A. Olivas, William B. Bates Distinguished Chair in Law and Director of the Institute for Higher Education, Law, and Governance at the University of Houston Law Center. He was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment. Thank you, Kristina. These figures may be of Southwestern provenance; but the history of this country, even if complex, is only complete when all the peoples of this country are included within its chronology. Supreme Court Decision delivered by Chief Justice Earl Warren. It would be great to hear about them as well. … The exclusion of otherwise eligible persons from jury service solely because of their ancestry or national origin is discrimination prohibited by the Fourteenth Amendment. Read our [Source: Hernandez v. Texas, 347 U.S. 475 (1954). She is the granddaughter of the late Judge Carlos Cadena, who was one of the talented attorneys who successfully appealed the Hernández case. The Library of Congress does not control the content posted. There must have been many, but I don’t think any were listed. The first and only Mexican-American civil-rights case heard and decided by the United States Supreme Court during the post-World War II period was Hernández v. the State of Texas. Washington, D.C.: GPO, United States Commission of Civil Rights, 1970. The petitioner did not seek proportional representation, nor did he claim a right to have persons of Mexican descent sit on the particular juries which he faced. The Library of Congress-Hispanic Cultural Society, an employee organization, in association with the Office of Opportunity, Inclusiveness and Compliance, held a commemorative event on Thursday, May 1 to pay tribute to this landmark case of American civil rights—Hernández v. Texas: American Civil Rights—Then & Now. Required fields are indicated with an * asterisk. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the judgment of the trial court. The event came with an additional and unexpected surprise: among the audience was a young lady named Hannah Katz. But how does this connect to the present day? The Library of Congress-Hispanic Cultural Society, an employee organization, in association with the Office of Opportunity, Inclusiveness and Compliance, held a commemorative event on Thursday, May 1 to pay tribute to this landmark case of American civil rights—Hernández v. Texas: American Civil Rights—Then & Now. The Fourteenth Amendment is not directed solely against discrimination due to a “two-class theory”–that is, based upon differences between “white” and Negro. It was not until almost 20 years later that Mexican American women began to become lawyers and litigate civil rights issues. Gustavo Gus Garcia, a Mexican American civil rights lawyer, agreed to represent Hernandez's appeal in order to challenge the states systematic exclusion of persons of Mexican origin from all types of jury duty. May 3 marked the 60th anniversary of a little known case of American civil rights: Hernández v. Texas. The petitioner established that 14% of the population of Jackson County were persons with Mexican or Latin American surnames, and that 11% of the males over 21 bore such names. His lawyers appealed. You are fully Mexican Americans and the Administration of Justice in the Southwest. Hernandez v. Texas, 347 U.S. 475, was a landmark case, "the first and only Mexican-American civil-rights case heard and decided by the United States Supreme Court during the post-World War II period." I really enjoyed this timely post. He is the author of Colored Men and Hombres Aquí: Hernández v. Texas and the Emergence of Mexican American Lawyering. In a unanimous decision, the United States Supreme Court ruled that Mexican Americans—and all “classes”—were entitled to the “equal protection” articulated in the Fourteenth Amendment. Gratuitous links to sites are viewed as spam and As in the past my contribution to this blog has given a voice to subjects of Hispanic legal heritage, today I would like to highlight a few of those (unsung) Hispanic pioneers who also contributed to American civil rights or whose feats warrant mention in the annals of our history. The State of Texas stipulated that “for the last twenty-five years there is no record of any person with a Mexican or Latin American name having served on a jury commission, grand jury or petit jury in Jackson County.” The parties also stipulated that “there are some male persons of Mexican or Latin American descent in Jackson County who, by virtue of being citizens, freeholders, and having all other legal prerequisites to jury service, are eligible to serve as members of a jury commission, grand jury and/or petit jury.”. His only claim is the right to be indicted and tried by juries from which all members of his class are not systematically excluded–juries selected from among all qualified persons regardless of national origin or descent. The decisions of this Court do not support that view. This holding, sometimes called the “rule of exclusion,” has been applied in other cases, and it is available in supplying proof of discrimination against any delineated class. You may like the blog post which was published yesterday, on the occasion of César Chávez’s birthday. When we think of the American Civil Rights Act, we think of President Kennedy, President Johnson, and, certainly, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., among others.
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