In 1951, Pete Hernandez shot and killed Joe Espinoza after getting into an argument at a bar. When it came time for Pete’s jury and and grand jury selection, only white jurors were considered and selected. In fact, in Jackson County, where Pete lived, there had not been a Mexican-American selected for a jury in over 25 years despite the availability of 6,000 potential Mexican-American jurors.
The case went on to be the very first Mexican-American civil rights case argued to the Supreme Court. It was also the first Supreme Court case to be argued by Mexican-American attorneys. The court ruled that Pete’s 14th amendment rights had been violated. The county has discriminated against Mexican Americans in its jury selection process by intentionally excluding them. It was a landmark decision because it was the first time the Mexican Americans were recognized as a class that should be protected under the 14th amendment.
Use our infographics and probing question below to engage your students!
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