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United States v. Seugasala

United States District Court, D. Alaska

April 20, 2015

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Plaintiff,
v.
STUART T. SEUGASALA, Defendant,

ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS

RALPH R. BEISTLINE, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

Before the Court, at Docket 597, is Defendant with a renewed motion to dismiss the indictment. The United States renews its opposition at Docket 640. Defendant contends that the indictment in this case was not returned by a Grand Jury drawn from a jury wheel that was created from a fair cross section of the community as required by the Sixth Amendment and the Jury Selection and Service Act of 1968.

II. BACKGROUND

The District of Alaska selects a grand jury at random pursuant to the District's Plan for Random Selection of Grand and Petit Jurors, adopted in accordance with the Jury Selection Act. The Plan follows the mandate of the Act by using the registered voters list as the source of names for potential jurors, as "the list of registered voters for the last local, state or national election represents a fair cross-section of the community in the District of Alaska." Every two years the District Court obtains a list of registered voters from the State of Alaska for the most recent election. From that list, a pool of potential jurors is selected at random and these individuals comprise the District's jury wheel. Each new grand jury is selected from a smaller group of potential jurors drawn from the jury wheel and serves for term of 18 months. Defendant challenges the jury wheel prepared in 2011, which was the source of the grand jury that indicted him in November 2013, as failing to represent a fair cross section of the community because of the reliance on voter registration in the jury wheel creation.

III. STANDARD

Under the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution, Defendant has a right to trial by an impartial jury, which the Jury Selection and Service Act of 1968 clarifies must be drawn from "a fair cross section of the community."[1] This requirement extends to both petit and grand juries.[2] A defendant may challenge whether the local jury plan substantially operates in accordance with the Act and "may move to dismiss the indictment or stay the proceedings against him on the ground of substantial failure to comply with the provisions of [the Act] in selecting the grand or petit jury."[3] If the Court determines that there has been a substantial failure to comply with the fair-cross-section requirement in selecting the grand jury, the Court may dismiss the indictment.[4]

IV. DISCUSSION

Three elements must be demonstrated by Defendants in order to establish a prima facie case of a violation of the Sixth Amendment's fair-cross-section requirement.[5] A defendant must show:

(1) that the group alleged to be excluded is a distinctive' group in the community;
(2) that the representation of this group in venires from which juries are selected is not fair and reasonable in relation to the number of such persons in the community; and
(3) that this underrepresentation is due to systematic exclusion of the group in the jury-selection process.

Id. The Court will address each of the three prongs of the Duren test ...


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