Albert Woodfox v. Burl Cain, Warden ( 2014 )


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  •      Case: 13-30266        Document: 00512843586        Page: 1     Date Filed: 11/20/2014
    
    
    
    
               IN THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS
                        FOR THE FIFTH CIRCUIT
                                                                               United States Court of Appeals
                                                                                        Fifth Circuit
    
                                                                                       FILED
                                           No. 13-30266                       November 20, 2014
                                                                                 Lyle W. Cayce
    ALBERT WOODFOX,                                                                   Clerk
    
    
                                                      Petitioner - Appellee
    v.
    
    BURL CAIN, WARDEN, LOUISIANA STATE PENITENTIARY; JAMES
    CALDWELL,
    
                                                      Respondents - Appellants
    
    
    
    
                        Appeal from the United States District Court
                            for the Middle District of Louisiana
    
    
    Before JOLLY, HIGGINBOTHAM, and SOUTHWICK, Circuit Judges.
    PATRICK E. HIGGINBOTHAM, Circuit Judge:
          Petitioner-Appellee Albert Woodfox is once again before this Court in
    connection with his federal habeas petition. The district court had originally
    granted Woodfox federal habeas relief on the basis of ineffective assistance of
    counsel, but we held that the district court erred in light of the deferential
    review afforded to state courts under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death
    Penalty Act of 1996 (“AEDPA”), and therefore vacated the district court’s
    decision. 1 We then remanded the case to the district court to consider the only
    remaining claim, which related to allegations of discrimination in the selection
    
    
    
          1   See Woodfox v. Cain (Woodfox I), 
    609 F.3d 774
    , 817–18 (5th Cir. 2010).
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    of the grand jury foreperson. 2 On remand, the district court held that the state
    court was not entitled to AEDPA deference; that Woodfox had successfully
    made out a prima facie case of discrimination in the selection of the grand jury
    foreperson; and that the State of Louisiana, acting through Respondent-
    Appellant Warden Burl Cain, had failed to rebut the prima facie case. 3 The
    district court once again granted federal habeas relief. 4
          The State now appeals that grant of habeas relief. Because we find that
    AEDPA deference should not be granted, that Woodfox successfully made his
    prima facie case at the district court level, and that the State failed in its
    rebuttal, we AFFIRM.
                                                I
                                               A
          This case has a long and complicated factual and procedural history.
    Because of our detailed recitation of this history in our earlier opinion, we
    explain here only those facts relevant to the claim at issue: discrimination in
    the selection of the grand jury foreperson.
          We begin with an important observation. Woodfox’s claim is not just
    about the selection of the grand jury foreperson. Rather, it is also about the
    selection of the grand jury itself. The grand jury system used for Woodfox’s re-
    indictment was the same as the one challenged in Campbell v. Louisiana. 5 As
    the Supreme Court explained, the Louisiana system of grand jury foreperson
    selection, at the time, was unlike most other systems. Under most systems,
    “the title ‘foreperson’ is bestowed on one of the existing grand jurors without
    any change in the grand jury’s composition.” 6 But under the Louisiana system
    
    
          2 Id.
          3 See generally Woodfox v. Cain, 
    926 F. Supp. 2d 841
     (M.D. La. 2013).
          4 Id.
          5 
    523 U.S. 392
     (1998).
          6 Id. at 396.
    
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    at issue, “the judge select[ed] the foreperson from the grand jury venire before
    the remaining [eleven] members of the grand jury [were] chosen by lot.” 7 The
    foreperson had the same voting power as all the other grand jurors. Thus, in
    effect, the judge chose one grand juror. This case then is one that alleges
    discrimination in the selection of the grand jurors, an important constitutional
    challenge. “For well over a century, the Supreme Court has held that a criminal
    conviction of an African-American cannot stand under the Equal Protection
    Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment if it is based on an indictment of a grand
    jury from which African-Americans were excluded on the basis of race.” 8
                                                B
          In 1972, Albert Woodfox was an inmate at the Louisiana State
    Penitentiary serving a fifty-year sentence for armed robbery. On April 17,
    1972, the body of Brent Miller, a prison guard at the penitentiary, was found
    in a pool of blood, having been stabbed 32 times. Woodfox, along with three
    other prisoners, was identified as one of the assailants. Woodfox was tried
    twice for the murder. Initially, he was indicted in 1972 and convicted in 1973.
    That conviction was overturned in state court post-conviction proceedings. As
    a result, he was re-indicted in 1993 by a grand jury in West Feliciana Parish.
    The late Judge Wilson Ramshur of the 20th Judicial District appointed the
    grand jury’s foreperson. 9 Woodfox was convicted of second-degree murder in
    1998. Woodfox was sentenced to life imprisonment, without the benefit of
    parole, probation, or suspension of sentence in February 1999.
          After his re-indictment, Woodfox moved to quash the new indictment
    based upon allegations of discrimination in the selection of the grand jury
    
    
    
          7  Id.
          8  Rideau v. Whitley, 
    237 F.3d 472
    , 484 (5th Cir. 2000); see, e.g., Strauder v. West
    Virginia, 
    100 U.S. 303
    , 308-10 (1879).
           9 The 20th Judicial District is comprised of both West and East Feliciana Parish.
    
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    foreperson. The state trial court denied this motion. After his second
    conviction, on direct appeal, Woodfox raised several issues, including the trial
    court’s denial of the motion to quash the indictment. On June 23, 2000, the
    Louisiana Court of Appeal, First Circuit affirmed the conviction and
    sentence, 10 and in doing so, held that the trial court made no error in denying
    the motion to quash. The Louisiana First Circuit found that the claim about
    discrimination in the selection of the grand jury foreperson failed because
    Woodfox did not successfully establish a prima facie case. According to the
    Louisiana       First     Circuit,     Woodfox       had      not     shown      “substantial
    underrepresentation of his race.” Woodfox is African-American. The evidence
    available to the Louisiana First Circuit demonstrated that between March
    1980 and March 1995, African-Americans constituted 44% of all registered
    voters in the Parish, while constituting only 27% of all grand jury forepersons.
    First, the Louisiana First Circuit did not think this disparity was large enough.
    Second, the court held that the percentage of African-American registered
    voters did “not indicate how many were qualified to serve as grand jurors.” 11
    The court reasoned that the difference could have been reduced, if not
    eliminated, if eligible population statistics instead of gross population
    statistics had been used. Woodfox filed a writ application with the Louisiana
    Supreme Court, which was denied on June 15, 2001, and then filed a writ of
    certiorari with the United States Supreme Court, which was denied on
    November 13, 2001. 12
    
    
           10  The Louisiana First Circuit also remanded the matter with instructions to the state
    trial court to notify Woodfox of the appropriate time period for filing an application for post-
    conviction relief.
            11 In Louisiana, to be qualified to serve on a grand jury, a person must: 1) be a citizen
    
    of the United States who has resided within the parish for a year, 2) be at least 18 years old,
    3) be literate in English, 4) not be incompetent because of mental or physical infirmity, and
    5) not be under indictment for or convicted of a felony. La. Code Crim. Proc. Ann. art. 401.
            12 Woodfox v. Louisiana, 
    534 U.S. 1027
    , 1027 (2001).
    
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                                                  C
           After failing to gain relief on direct appeal, Woodfox next filed his
    application for state post-conviction relief. He raised several claims, including
    the claim regarding discrimination in the selection of the grand jury
    foreperson. In support of that claim, Woodfox produced new evidence. First,
    Woodfox presented the disparity over a longer period of time. Between 1970
    and 1990, African-Americans represented between 40%–56% of the non-
    incarcerated population of the Parish. But, between 1964 and 1993, African-
    Americans represented only 12% of all grand jury forepersons. Second, in
    response to the earlier decision on direct appeal, Woodfox presented the
    disparity using eligible population statistics, instead of general population
    statistics. For the eligible population statistics, Woodfox chose to rely on the
    race percentages found within the grand jurors drawn by lot, i.e., the racial
    makeup of non-foreperson grand jurors. 13 Woodfox compiled the race data with
    information he gathered with assistance from the registrar of voters in the
    Parish, and he presented the data to the extent he could determine the race of
    all the non-foreperson grand jurors. Between 1964 and 1993, African-
    Americans constituted an average of 36% of the non-foreperson grand jurors.
    During the same period, as mentioned above, African-Americans represented
    only 12% of all grand jury forepersons. 14
           The State filed a response to this application for state post-conviction
    relief. 15 In its answer, the State urged the rejection of the grand jury foreperson
    
    
           13  Woodfox relied on such data because a Louisiana Supreme Court case had allowed
    the use of such data as eligible population statistics. See State v. Langley, 1995-1489 (La.
    4/3/02); 
    813 So. 2d 356
    .
            14 Woodfox also broke down the data by two different year periods. Between 1964 and
    
    1972, African-Americans constituted 13% of non-foreperson grand jurors. Between 1973 and
    1993, African-Americans constituted 45% of non-foreperson grand jurors.
            15 The state trial court handling the application for post-conviction relief initially
    
    denied relief without requiring a response from the State. But Woodfox filed a writ to the
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                                          No. 13-30266
    discrimination claim. The State argued that the new evidence was essentially
    the same as the evidence presented on direct appeal, except that the time
    period had been changed from 1980–1995 to 1964–1993. The State also argued
    that the new evidence, which presented the race of the non-foreperson grand
    jurors was publicly available information that the defense could have
    presented during direct appeal but did not. As a result, the State argued that
    the claim was “meritless,” that the matter had already been ruled upon, and
    that the state post-conviction court need not revisit the issue.
           On October 25, 2004, the 21st Judicial District Court sitting as the state
    post-conviction court denied the application for post-conviction relief. The state
    post-conviction court’s decision was comprised of two separate documents: a
    “Judgment” and a statement of “Written Reasons.”
           In the “Judgment,” the state post-conviction court denied Woodfox’s
    application in entirety, stating that the application was “fully addressed” by
    the State’s answer and that “[a] review of the record of these proceedings, as
    well as the answer, indicates that there is no need to hold an evidentiary
    hearing in these proceedings. For written reasons this day adopted and
    assigned, the Court finds that the allegations are without merits and the
    Application may be denied without the necessity of further proceedings.”
           In the “Written Reasons,” the state post-conviction court noted that
    Woodfox had to bear the burden of proving that he was entitled to habeas relief.
    It then cited to the Louisiana Code of Criminal Procedure article 930.2, and
    then stated: “In light of such burden of proof, the Court has fully considered
    the application, the answer, and all relevant documents and has determined
    that Petitioner has failed to carry his burden of proof. In determining that
    
    
    Louisiana First Circuit. That state appellate court granted the writ on May 16, 2003 because
    Woodfox had “raised claims in the application for postconviction relief that, if established,
    would entitle him to relief” and remanded with instruction to order an answer from the State.
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    Petitioner’s application should be denied, the Court, moreover, adopts the
    State’s [answer] as the written reasons for the Court’s decision.”
          After failing to get relief from the state post-conviction court, Woodfox
    filed a writ application with the Louisiana First Circuit, which was denied on
    August 8, 2005. He then filed a writ application with the Louisiana Supreme
    Court, which was denied on September 29, 2006.
                                                D
          Woodfox timely filed his petition for federal habeas relief pursuant to 28
    U.S.C. § 2254 on October 11, 2006 and amended it on February 14, 2007.
    Woodfox made several claims for habeas relief, including claims of ineffective
    assistance of counsel, claims of suppression of exculpatory evidence, and the
    claim of discrimination in the selection of the grand jury foreperson.
          The case was referred to a magistrate judge. As to the ineffective
    assistance of counsel claims, the magistrate judge found that Woodfox’s 1998
    trial counsel had performed deficiently in some respects and thus prejudiced
    Woodfox, and therefore recommended that the conviction be vacated and the
    case remanded to state court. 16 As to the grand jury foreperson discrimination
    claim, the magistrate judge ruled in the alternative. The magistrate judge
    found that Woodfox had presented evidence sufficient to support a prima facie
    case of discrimination, but that an evidentiary hearing would be necessary to
    allow the State an opportunity to rebut the prima facie case. But the
    magistrate judge did not conduct the hearing because Woodfox’s ineffective
    assistance claims were sufficient to overturn his conviction. Instead, the
    magistrate judge recommended that if the district judge disagreed with the
    
    
    
    
          16  As to the suppression of exculpatory evidence claims, the magistrate judge dealt
    with these claims in a footnote and denied an evidentiary hearing because Woodfox’s
    ineffective assistance of counsel claims were sufficient to overturn his conviction.
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    resolution of the ineffective assistance claims, then the matter be referred back
    for the evidentiary hearing.
          On July 8, 2008, the district court adopted the magistrate judge’s report
    and granted the writ of habeas corpus. The State filed a motion to supplement
    the record and a motion to reconsider. On September 11, 2008, the district
    court reaffirmed its July 8th ruling granting the writ of habeas corpus. The
    State appealed the grant of habeas corpus. As discussed above, we vacated the
    district court’s judgment based upon the highly deferential review mandated
    by AEDPA. 17 But the claim of discrimination in the selection of the grand jury
    foreperson was not before us, 18 and we remanded for the resolution of this
    remaining claim. 19
                                                E
          Upon remand, the district court first held that the state court’s
    decision—specifically the Louisiana First Circuit’s June 23rd ruling—was an
    unreasonable application of clearly established law as determined by the
    Supreme Court and therefore should not be afforded AEDPA deference. It then
    held an evidentiary hearing on May 29–31, 2012. 20
          The district court ruled that the relevant time period for grand jury
    foreperson selection in West Feliciana Parish was 1980 through March 1993. 21
    To establish his prima facie claim, Woodfox used both general and eligible
    population statistics. First, the general population statistics showed that in
    1990, the percentage of African-Americans in the Parish, excluding prisoners,
    was 44%. 22 The percentage of African-Americans among registered voters
    
    
    
          17 Woodfox I, 609 F.3d at 817–18.
          18 Id. at 788 n.1.
          19 Id. at 818.
          20 Woodfox, 926 F. Supp. 2d at 843.
          21 Id. at 844.
          22 Id.
    
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    between 1980 and 1993 was 43.5%. 23 Second, the eligible population statistics
    showed that between 1980 and March 1993, there were 297 non-foreperson
    grand jurors; Woodfox was able to establish the race of 277 of these grand
    jurors. 24 Only 113 out of 277 non-foreperson grand jurors were African-
    American, or 40.8%. 25 Third, during this time, only 5 out of 27 grand jury
    forepersons were African-American, or 18.5%. 26 Based on this and other
    factors, the district court found that Woodfox had successfully made out a
    prima facie case. 27 The district court then rejected the State’s rebuttal case,
    which included statistical evidence that aimed to discredit the prima facie case
    as well as evidence attempting to demonstrate that West Feliciana Parish
    judges relied on racially neutral criteria in selecting the grand jury
    foreperson. 28 The district court granted habeas relief. 29 The State now appeals.
                                             II
          “In a habeas corpus appeal, we review the district court’s findings of fact
    for clear error and its conclusions of law de novo, applying the same standards
    to the state court’s decision as did the district court.” 30 Under 28 U.S.C. §
    2254(d), we cannot grant a writ of habeas corpus with respect to any claim
    adjudicated on the merits in state court unless such adjudication:
                 (1) resulted in a decision that was contrary to, or
                     involved an unreasonable application of, clearly
                     established Federal law, as determined by the
                     Supreme Court of the United States; or
    
    
    
          23 Id.
          24 Id.
          25 Id.
          26 Id.
          27 Id.
          28 Id. at 844–58.
          29 Id. at 858.
          30 Lewis v. Thaler, 
    701 F.3d 783
    , 787 (5th Cir. 2012) (internal quotation marks
    
    omitted); see also Higgins v. Cain, 
    720 F.3d 255
    , 260 (5th Cir. 2013).
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                 (2) resulted in a decision that was based on an
                     unreasonable determination of the facts in light of
                     the evidence presented in the State court
                     proceeding. 31
    
    For a challenge to a state court decision under § 2254(d)(1), the Supreme Court
    has clarified that the “contrary to” inquiry is different from the “unreasonable
    application” inquiry. 32 A state court’s decision is “contrary to” clearly
    established federal law if “the state court arrives at a conclusion opposite to
    that reached by [the Supreme Court] on a question of law or if the state court
    decides a case differently than [the Supreme Court] has on a set of materially
    indistinguishable facts.” 33 A state court’s decision involves an “unreasonable
    application” of clearly established federal law if “the state court identifies the
    correct governing legal principle from [the Supreme Court’s] decisions but
    unreasonably applies that principle to the facts of the prisoner’s case.” 34 In
    reviewing a state court’s decision under the “unreasonable application” prong,
    we focus on “the ultimate legal conclusion that the state court reached and not
    on whether the state court considered and discussed every angle of the
    evidence.” 35 The Supreme Court has clarified that when a claim is adjudicated
    on the merits, for the purposes of review under § 2254(d)(1), the record is
    limited to the one before the state court, even if the state court issued a
    summary affirmance. 36
          A challenge to a state court decision under § 2254(d)(2) challenges the
    determination of facts by the state court. 37 Under 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1), “a
    
    
    
          31 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d).
          
    32 Will. v
    . Taylor, 
    529 U.S. 362
    , 412–13 (2000).
          33 Id. at 413.
          34 Id.
          35 Neal v. Puckett, 
    286 F.3d 230
    , 246 (5th Cir. 2002) (en banc) (per curiam).
          36 Cullen v. Pinholster, 
    131 S. Ct. 1388
    , 1398, 1402 (2011).
          37 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(2).
    
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    determination of a factual issue made by a State court shall be presumed to be
    correct” and the habeas petitioner “shall have the burden of rebutting the
    presumption        of    correctness       by    clear     and     convincing       evidence.” 38
    Section 2254(e)(1) is the “arguably more deferential standard.” 39 The Supreme
    Court has recognized a division among the circuits on the interplay between
    these two statutory provisions, 40 but has yet to resolve this question. 41
    Regardless, a state court’s factual determination is “not unreasonable merely
    because the federal habeas court would have reached a different conclusion in
    the first instance.” 42 For claims that are not adjudicated on the merits in the
    state court, we apply a de novo standard of review. 43
           Finally, “whether the grand jury was selected in a systematically
    unrepresentative or racially discriminatory manner, has long been recognized
    to be a question of law or a mixed question of fact and law.” 44
                                                    III
           The first issue in this appeal is which state court decision ought to be
    examined for AEDPA deference. The State argues that it is the Louisiana First
    Circuit’s June 23rd ruling on direct appeal which should be examined. Indeed,
    the district court examined this ruling for AEDPA deference. Woodfox argues
    
    
    
    
           38     Id. § 2254(e)(1).
           39     Wood v. Allen, 
    558 U.S. 290
    , 301 (2010).
               40 Id. at 299 (“[W]e granted review of a question that has divided the Courts of Appeals:
    
    whether, in order to satisfy § 2254(d)(2), a petitioner must establish only that the state-court
    factual determination on which the decision was based was ‘unreasonable,’ or whether
    § 2254(e)(1) additionally requires a petitioner to rebut a presumption that the determination
    was correct with clear and convincing evidence.”).
               41 Id. at 300 (“Although we granted certiorari to resolve the question of how
    
    §§ 2254(d)(2) and (e)(1) fit together, we find once more that we need not reach this question
    . . . .”).
               42 Id. at 301.
               43 Wright v. Quarterman, 
    470 F.3d 581
    , 591 (5th Cir. 2006).
               44 Rideau, 237 F.3d at 486.
    
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    that the state post-conviction court’s October 25th ruling should be
    examined. 45
           Under AEDPA, “we review the last reasoned state court decision.” 46
    Using the “look through” doctrine, we “ignore—and hence, look through—an
    unexplained state court denial and evaluate the last reasoned state court
    decision.” 47 In Ylst v. Nunnemaker, 48 on direct appeal, the state appeals court
    had applied a procedural bar to a claim. 49 The petitioner subsequently filed a
    petition for habeas corpus with the state supreme court, “invoking the original
    jurisdiction” of that court. 50 That petition was denied without opinion. 51 In
    holding that the procedural bar was still valid, the Supreme Court applied a
    presumption that “[w]here there has been one reasoned state judgment
    rejecting a federal claim, later unexplained orders upholding that judgment or
    rejecting the same claim rest upon the same ground.” 52 Ylst also made clear
    that if the later state court decides the question differently than the original
    state court, then the later judgment has controlling effect. 53
    
    
           45 The State argues in the alternative that deference should be given to both decisions.
    See Collins v. Secretary of Pennsylvania Dept. of Corrections, 
    742 F.3d 528
    , 544-46 (3rd Cir.
    2014); Loggins v. Thomas, 
    654 F.3d 1204
    , 1217 (11th Cir. 2011); Hammond v. Hall, 
    586 F.3d 1289
     (11th Cir. 2009). We find this argument unpersuasive. In the cases cited by the State,
    successive state court decisions decided separate issues, such as the separate prongs of a
    Strickland inquiry. None of the cases cited suggest that deference should be given to both of
    two successive state court decisions on the same issue. In this case, the later state court
    ruling decided the same issue as the earlier one: whether or not Woodfox had made out a
    prima facie case of discrimination.
           46 Batchelor v. Cain, 
    682 F.3d 400
    , 405 (5th Cir. 2012) (quoting Wood v. Quarterman,
    
    
    491 F.3d 196
    , 202 (5th Cir. 2007)) (internal quotation marks omitted).
           47 Bledsue v. Johnson, 
    188 F.3d 250
    , 256 (5th Cir. 1999).
           48 
    501 U.S. 797
     (1991).
           49 Id. at 799.
           50 Id. at 800.
           51 Id.
           52 Id. at 803.
           53 Cf. id. at 801 (“State procedural bars are not immortal, however; they may expire
    
    because of later actions by state courts. If the last state court to be presented with a particular
    federal claim reaches the merits, it removes any bar to federal-court review that might
    otherwise have been available.”).
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          Here, working backwards through the state adjudicatory process, it is
    clear that during state post-conviction proceedings, neither the Louisiana First
    Circuit nor the Louisiana Supreme Court issued a reasoned opinion. At the
    very least, then, we have to examine the state post-conviction court’s October
    25th ruling. But the State contends that as to the grand jury foreperson
    discrimination claim, the October 25th ruling by the state post-conviction court
    was not on an adjudication on the merits. The State contends that the state
    post-conviction court applied a special type of bar: Louisiana Code of Criminal
    Procedure article 930.4(A), which states that “[u]nless required in the interest
    of justice, any claim for relief which was fully litigated in an appeal from the
    proceedings leading to the judgment of conviction and sentence shall not be
    considered.” 54 As we have recognized before, “[t]he bar imposed by article
    930.4(A) is not a procedural bar in the traditional sense, nor is it a decision on
    the merits.” 55 The State argues that the state post-conviction decision cannot
    be examined for AEDPA deference because it neither adjudicated the claim on
    the merits nor applied a procedural bar in the traditional sense. The State
    wishes us to look even further back to the opinions on direct appeal.
    Specifically, the State argues that the Louisiana First Circuit’s June 23rd
    decision on direct appeal is the only one that adjudicated this claim on the
    merits; that opinion should be examined for AEDPA deference. The upshot of
    this argument is clear. The Louisiana First Circuit rejected Woodfox’s claim
    because he had failed to present eligible population statistics. Thus, the
    § 2254(d) inquiry would ask whether the state court’s opinion was contrary to
    or an unreasonable application of clearly established federal law as determined
    by the Supreme Court in requiring eligible population statistics. By contrast,
    
    
    
          54   La. Code. Crim. Proc. Ann. art. 930.4(A).
          55   Bennett v. Whitley, 
    41 F.3d 1581
    , 1583 (5th Cir. 1994).
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    Woodfox did present eligible population statistics to the state post-conviction
    court. Thus, the § 2254(d) inquiry would ask whether the state court’s opinion
    was contrary to or an unreasonable application of clearly established federal
    law in rejecting the disparity demonstrated.
           To our eyes, the state-post conviction opinion was an adjudication on the
    merits and should be examined for AEDPA deference. This conclusion is the
    product of two different reasons. First, the law-of-the-case doctrine suggests
    that this was a merits adjudication. “The law-of-the-case doctrine posits that
    when a court decides upon a rule of law, that decision should continue to govern
    the same issue in subsequent stages in the same case.” 56 “[A]n issue of fact or
    law decided on appeal may not be reexamined either by the district court on
    remand or by the appellate court on subsequent appeal.” 57 During his first
    appeal to our Court, we specifically noted that the grand jury foreperson
    discrimination claim was not at issue. Yet when deciding the nature of the
    state-post conviction opinion we also held that “it is clear that the state [post-
    conviction] court decided all of Woodfox’s claims on the merits.” 58 This holding
    binds us, and compels the conclusion that the state post-conviction court
    adjudicated the present claim on the merits.
           Second, even if we reject the use of the law-of-the-case doctrine, we would
    still hold that the state post-conviction court adjudicated the claim on the
    merits. The Supreme Court clarified in Harrington v. Richter, 59 that “[w]hen a
    federal claim has been presented to a state court and the state court has denied
    relief, it may be presumed that the state court adjudicated the claim on the
    
    
    
           56 Med. Ctr. Pharmacy v. Holder, 
    634 F.3d 830
    , 834 (5th Cir. 2011) (citations omitted)
    (internal quotation marks omitted).
           57 United States v. Lee, 
    358 F.3d 315
    , 320 (5th Cir. 2004) (citations omitted) (internal
    
    quotation marks omitted).
           58 Woodfox I, 609 F.3d at 798.
           59 
    131 S. Ct. 770
     (2011).
    
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                                         No. 13-30266
    merits in the absence of any indication or state-law procedural principles to
    the contrary.” 60 The Richter presumption applies even where the habeas
    petitioner raises a federal claim and the “state court rules against the
    defendant and issues an opinion that addresses some issues but does not
    expressly address the federal claim in question.” 61 But the “presumption may
    be overcome when there is reason to think some other explanation for the state
    court’s decision is more likely.” 62 The presumption could be rebutted “either by
    the habeas petitioner (for the purpose of showing that the claim should be
    considered by the federal court de novo) or by the State (for the purpose of
    showing that the federal claim should be regarded as procedurally
    defaulted).” 63 For example, “a federal claim [that] is rejected as a result of sheer
    inadvertence,” would not be afforded the Richter presumption. 64 Thus, we must
    presume that the state post-conviction opinion was an adjudication on the
    merits as to the grand jury foreperson discrimination claim. And it is the
    State’s burden to demonstrate that a bar—such as Article 930.4(A)—was
    applied. The State simply cannot carry this burden.
          We have adopted a three-part test when it is unclear whether a state
    court’s opinions adjudicates a claim on the merits. We consider:
                 (1) what the state courts have done in similar cases;
                 (2) whether the history of the case suggests that the
                 state court was aware of any ground for not
                 adjudicating the case on the merits; and
                 (3) whether the state courts’ opinions suggest reliance
                 upon procedural grounds rather than a determination
                 on the merits. 65
    
    
          60  Id. at 784–85.
          61  Johnson v. Williams, 
    133 S. Ct. 1088
    , 1091 (2013).
           62 Richter, 131 S. Ct. at 785.
           63 Williams, 133 S. Ct. at 1091.
           64 Id. at 1097.
           65 Mercadel v. Cain, 
    179 F.3d 271
    , 274 (5th Cir. 1999) (citation omitted) (internal
    
    quotation marks omitted).
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                                           No. 13-30266
    
    
    As to the first prong, as we noted in Woodfox’s first appeal, the state post-
    conviction court held that Woodfox’s claims had no merit and that it would
    adopt the State’s answer. The court cited Louisiana Code of Criminal
    Procedure article 930.2, which provides that “[t]he petitioner in an application
    for post conviction relief shall have the burden of proving that relief should be
    granted.” 66 The Louisiana Supreme Court cites Article 930.2 both in cases
    where the petitioner has failed to carry his burden on the merits and where
    the petitioner has failed to meet his burden on some procedural point. 67
    Moreover, the Louisiana Courts of Appeals have repeatedly cited Article
    930.4(A) when relying upon it, while in this case no such citation was made. 68
    Thus, consideration of what the state courts have done in similar cases does
    not support overcoming the presumption that the state court here issued a
    decision on the merits.
           As to the second prong, the history of the case suggests that the state
    court was aware of a possible ground for not adjudicating the case on the
    merits. The State primarily relies on the answer that it submitted to the state
    post-conviction court. The State argued that the new evidence presented was
    both untimely and substantially similar to evidence already considered on
    appeal, and thus did not justify revisiting the already-litigated issue. This
    reasoning could support a merits decision: it urges that the logic behind the
    merits decision on appeal retained its force because nothing of consequence
    had been added in the post-conviction case. Indeed, the answer explicitly
    
    
    
           66 La. Code Crim. Proc. Ann. Art. 930.2.
           67 Compare State v. LeBlanc, 2006-0169 (La. 9/16/06); 
    937 So. 2d 844
    , 844 (per curiam),
    with State v. Russell, 2004-1622 (La. 11/15/04); 
    887 So. 2d 462
    , 462.
           68 See, e.g., State v. Mourra, 06-695 (La. App. 5 Cir. 1/30/07), 
    951 So. 2d 1216
    , 1218;
    
    State v. Hunter, 2002-2742 (La. App. 4 Cir. 2/19/03), 
    841 So. 2d 42
    , 43; State v. Biagas, 1999-
    2652 (La. App. 4 Cir. 2/16/00), 
    754 So. 2d 1111
    , 1118.
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                                           No. 13-30266
    asserted that the claim was “meritless.” On the other hand, though it never
    cited Article 930.4(A), the State’s argument could also provide grounds
    supporting a non-merits decision based on that Article. It is worth noting that
    a distinction may be drawn between the state court being “aware of any ground
    for” a non-merits decision and the court being aware simply of the argument
    that such a ground exists. Putting aside that distinction, however, it does
    appear that the court was aware of a ground that might have supported a non-
    merits decision under Article 930.4(A).
          As to the third prong, we find ourselves constrained to follow the logic
    adopted in Woodfox’s earlier appeal. We inquire whether the state post-
    conviction court’s opinion suggests reliance upon procedural grounds rather
    than a determination of the merits. In its “Judgment,” the court stated that
    the record along with the State’s answer indicated that “the allegations are
    without merit.” In its “Written Reasons,” the court stated that it had
    considered “the application, the answer, and all relevant documents” before
    concluding that Woodfox failed to meet his burden. The court then stated that
    “moreover” it was adopting the State’s answer. As we noted in Woodfox’s
    earlier appeal and note again now, “moreover” means “[i]n addition thereto,
    also, furthermore, likewise, beyond this, beside this,” 69 or “in addition to what
    has been said.” 70 Resultantly, the state post-conviction court reviewed the
    record in its entirety and found no merit as to any of Woodfox’s claims. In
    addition to this conclusion, the court also adopted the State’s answer which, as
    discussed above, could support either a merits or non-merits decision.
          We cannot simply assume that there was an implicit application of the
    Article 930.4(A) bar. To do so would fly directly in the face of the presumption
    
    
    
          69   Black’s Law Dictionary 1009 (6th ed. 1990).
          70   Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary 755 (10th ed. 2002).
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                                             No. 13-30266
    of merits adjudication the Supreme Court has clearly announced. In this case,
    the factors on balance point to the conclusion that the state post-conviction
    court adjudicated the grand jury foreperson discrimination claim on the merits.
    Therefore, the district court erred in examining afresh the Louisiana First
    Circuit ruling. We now turn to examine the state post-conviction decision,
    according the deference required by AEDPA.
                                                     IV
           If the state post-conviction opinion withstands the scrutiny of § 2254(d),
    thereby affording AEDPA deference, habeas relief may not be granted.
                                                     A
           In Castaneda v. Partida, 71 the Supreme Court held that to show that an
    equal protection violation has occurred in a grand jury context, the “defendant
    must        show   that    the       procedure    employed   resulted   in   substantial
    underrepresentation of his race or of the identifiable group to which he
    belongs.” 72 To make a prima facie case, the petitioner must do three things:
                   The first step is to establish that the group is one that
                   is a recognizable, distinct class, singled out for
                   different treatment under the laws, as written or as
                   applied. Next, the degree of underrepresentation must
                   be proved, by comparing the proportion of the group in
                   the total population to the proportion called to serve
                   as grand jurors, over a significant period of time. This
                   method of proof, sometimes called the ‘rule of
                   exclusion,’ has been held to be available as a method
                   of proving discrimination in jury selection against a
                   delineated class. Finally, as noted above, a selection
                   procedure that is susceptible of abuse or is not racially
                   neutral supports the presumption of discrimination
                   raised by the statistical showing. 73
    
    
    
           71 
    430 U.S. 482
     (1977).
           72 Id. at 494.
           73 Id. (citations omitted).
    
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                                           No. 13-30266
    Upon showing of this prima facie case, “the burden then shifts to the State to
    rebut that case.” 74
           There can be no dispute that the first and third elements of the prima
    facie case have been met. African-Americans are a distinct, cognizable class
    that have been singled out for discrimination. 75 Next, both federal and state
    courts have recognized that the system of selecting the grand jury foreperson
    then in place was susceptible to abuse. 76 Indeed, as the Louisiana Supreme
    Court held before Woodfox’s state post-conviction proceedings, the system “was
    unquestionably subject to abuse according to subjective criteria that may
    include race and gender.” 77 If the state post-conviction court had rejected the
    prima facie case on either of these prongs, its determination would have clearly
    been contrary to or an unreasonable application of clearly established federal
    law. Therefore, the state post-conviction court could only have rejected this
    claim based on the second element: that the degree of underrepresentation had
    not been proven over a significant period of time.
                                                  B
           In making our § 2254(d) inquiry, we begin first by clarifying a question
    we are not answering. We need not decide the question of whether a state court
    errs when it requires eligible population statistics rather than general
    population statistics from a petitioner in making out a prima facie case. That
    issue is quite complicated. To begin, Castaneda allowed the use of general
    population statistics in proving the degree of underrepresentation. Even
    though Chief Justice Burger argued in dissent that “eligible population
    
    
    
    
           74 Id. at 495.
           75 Rose v. Mitchell, 
    443 U.S. 545
    , 555–56 (1979).
           76 Campbell, 523 U.S. at 396–97; Guice v. Fortenberry (Guice I), 
    661 F.2d 496
    , 503 (5th
    
    Cir. 1981); Langley, 813 So. 2d at 371.
           77 Langley, 813 So. 2d at 371.
    
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                                         No. 13-30266
    statistics, not gross population figures, provide the relevant starting point,” 78
    the majority rejected this position. The majority found that the petitioner had
    made a prima facie case, thus shifting the burden of rebuttal to the State. 79
    Next, the Castaneda Court faulted the Texas state court under review for
    speculating on its own motion that general population statistics were not
    reliable, and requiring the use of eligible population statistics. 80 Instead,
    Castaneda made it the State’s burden to show that the statistical disparities
    are unreliable through the use of eligible population statistics. 81 Thus,
    Castaneda stands for the proposition that petitioners can always prevail on the
    prima facie case using general population statistics, and it is the State’s burden
    to produce eligible population statistics.
          But Castaneda’s holding is also limited by its context. First, Castaneda
    compares the general population statistics to a group of persons not at issue in
    this case: people called to serve as grand jurors, not those who actually served
    as grand jurors. As the Supreme Court explained at the time, the Texas method
    of selecting grand jurors was unique. A Texas state district judge would
    appoint jury commissioners; those jury commissioners would in turn select a
    list of 15 to 20 people from which the grand jury would eventually be drawn. 82
    When at least 12 of those people appeared appear in court, the district judge
    would proceed to test their qualifications. 83 Thus, “qualifications [were] not
    tested until the persons on the list appear[ed] in the court.” 84 Castaneda
    compares the general population statistics to those called by the jury
    
    
    
          78 Castaneda, 430 U.S. at 504 (Burger, C.J. dissenting).
          79 Id. at 495 (majority opinion).
          80 Id. at 498.
          81 Id. at 499–500.
          82 Id. at 484.
          83 Id. at 484–85.
          84 Id. at 488 n.8.
    
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                                         No. 13-30266
    commissioners. In other words, it compares population statistics to a group
    that had not yet been qualified. By contrast, Woodfox attempted to compare
    his population statistics to persons who actually served as grand jury
    forepersons, i.e., a group of qualified persons. Second, the Supreme Court also
    explained that it preferred not to use eligible population statistics because the
    idea that eligible population statistics ought to be used was not brought up
    until oral argument: “[T]here are so many implicit assumptions in this
    analysis, and we consider it inappropriate for us, as an appellate tribunal, to
    undertake this kind of inquiry without a record below in which those
    assumptions were tested.” 85
          Further complicating the question is our decision in United States ex rel.
    Barksdale v. Blackburn. 86 In that case, the “issue [was] whether general
    population statistics or more meaningful eligible population statistics should
    be used where . . . those statistics are in the record.” 87 We acknowledged that
    Castaneda used general population statistics, but held that Castaneda “should
    not be read to require using those figures.” 88 We decided that “statistics
    describing the presumptively eligible black juror population, rather than the
    general black population, provide the proper starting point for an inquiry into
    racial disparities in the Parish.” 89 This was because such “appropriate
    statistics had been developed in the record.” 90
          Since Woodfox presented both general and eligible population statistics
    to the state post-conviction court, however, our § 2254(d) inquiry is much
    simpler. We simply have to ask whether the state post-conviction court’s
    
    
    
          85 Id.
          86 
    639 F.2d 1115
     (1981) (en banc).
          87 Id. at 1123.
          88 Id.
          89 Id. at 1124.
          90 Id. at 1123.
    
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                                          No. 13-30266
    rejection of the statistics presented was contrary to or an unreasonable
    application of clearly established federal law as determined by the Supreme
    Court.
                                                 C
           Recall that Woodfox presented the following information to the state
    post-conviction court. First, that between 1970 and 1990, African-Americans
    represented between 40%–56% of the non-incarcerated population of the
    Parish. Second, that between 1964 and 1993, African-Americans constituted
    an average of 36% of the non-foreperson grand jurors. 91 This constituted his
    proof of general and eligible population statistics. Third, that between 1964
    and 1993, African-Americans represented only 12% of all grand jury
    forepersons. Therefore, using the low end of general population statistics, the
    absolute disparity would have been 28%, and using the eligible population
    statistics it would have been 24%.
           State courts are not restricted to using only absolute disparity evidence
    to evaluate a prima facie case. 92 However, absolute disparity evidence was the
    only kind of evidence put before the state post-conviction court in this case. The
    Supreme Court has provided useful indicators as to the amount of absolute
    disparity that is sufficient to satisfy the second element of the prima facie case.
    To begin, the Court has held that underrepresentation by as much as 10% does
    not show purposeful discrimination based on race. 93 Next, in Castaneda, the
    petitioner successfully made his prima facie case by showing that Mexican-
    
    
           91 Woodfox also broke down the data by two different year periods. Between 1964 and
    1972, African-Americans constituted 13% of non-foreperson grand jurors. Between 1973 and
    1993, African-Americans constituted 45% of non-foreperson grand jurors.
           92 Berghuis v. Smith, 
    559 U.S. 314
    , 329 (2010) (“[No] decision of this Court specifies
    
    the method or test courts must use to measure the representation of distinctive groups in
    jury pools.”).
           93 Swain v. Alabama, 
    380 U.S. 202
    , 208–09 (1965), overruled on other ground by
    
    Batson v. Kentucky, 
    476 U.S. 79
     (1986).
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                                          No. 13-30266
    Americans constituted 79.1% of the county, yet constituted only 39% of those
    summoned for grand jury service: an absolute disparity of 40%. 94 Not only that,
    but Castaneda also highlighted the other absolute disparities that were
    acceptable to establish a prima facie case. For example, the Supreme Court has
    specifically allowed the following disparities to make out a prima facie case of
    grand jury discrimination: 14.7% 95; 18% 96; 19.7% 97; 23%. 98
           Based on these figures, it is apparent that the absolute disparities before
    the state post-conviction court—either 24% or 28%—could not have been
    rejected without being an unreasonable application of federal law as
    determined by the Supreme Court. These disparities are well within the range
    considered significant by the Supreme Court. As a result, the state post-
    conviction opinion cannot be afforded AEDPA deference under the § 2254(d)
    standard.
                                                 V
           Having held that AEDPA deference is not warranted, we now turn to the
    proceedings held before the district court at the federal evidentiary hearing.
    We begin with the prima facie case made before the district court.
           As a reminder, under Castaneda, there are three elements to the prima
    facie case: 1) the group has to be a recognizable, distinct class, singled out for
    different treatment under the laws, as written or as applied, 2) the degree of
    
    
    
           94  Castaneda, 430 U.S. at 495–96.
           
    95 Jones v
    . Georgia, 
    389 U.S. 24
    , 24 (1967) (per curiam) (holding that disparity was
    enough where African-Americans were 19.7% of taxpayers but only 5% of jury list).
            96 Whitus v. Georgia, 
    385 U.S. 545
    , 552 (1967) (holding that disparity was enough
    
    where African-Americans were 27.1% on the tax digest but only 9.1% of grand jury venire).
            97 Sims v. Georgia, 
    389 U.S. 404
    , 407 (1967) (per curiam) (holding that disparity was
    
    enough where African-Americans were 24.4% of the individual taxpayers in the county but
    only 4.7% of the names on the grand jury list).
            98 Turner v. Fouche, 
    396 U.S. 346
    , 359 (1970) (holding that disporting was enough
    
    where African-Americans were 60% of the general population in the county but only 37% on
    the list from which grand jury was drawn).
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                                            No. 13-30266
    underrepresentation must be proved over a significant period of time, and 3)
    the selection procedure must be susceptible of abuse or must not be racially
    neutral. 99 Again, there can be no doubt that Woodfox met the first and third
    elements. Woodfox is African-American and African-Americans constitute a
    distinct, cognizable class. 100 Next, the Louisiana procedure for selecting grand
    jury forepersons prior to 1999 was “unquestionably subject to abuse according
    to subjective criteria that may include race and gender.” 101
          As to the second element, the district court held that the relevant time
    period was between 1980 and March 1993. Recall that, to establish his prima
    facie claim, Woodfox used both general and eligible population statistics. First,
    the general population statistics showed that in 1990, the percentage of
    African-Americans in the Parish, excluding prisoners, was 44%. 102 The
    percentage of African-Americans among registered voters between 1980 and
    1993 was 43.5%. 103 Second, the eligible population statistics showed that
    between 1980 and March 1993, there were 297 non-foreperson grand jurors;
    Woodfox was able to establish the race of 277 of these grand jurors. 104 Only 113
    out of 277 non-foreperson grand jurors were African-American, or 40.8%. 105
    Third, during this time, only 5 out of 27 grand jury forepersons were African-
    American, or 18.5%. 106 Based on these statistics, the district court found that
    a prima facie case had been established. We agree. The absolute disparity
    using general population statistics is at least 25%. This in itself would be
    enough to establish the prima facie case. First, our Court has previously
    
    
          99 Castaneda, 430 U.S. at 494.
          100 Mitchell, 443 U.S. at 565.
          101 Langley, 813 So. 2d at 371.
          102 Id.
          103 Id.
          104 Id.
          105 Id.
          106 Id.
    
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                                           No. 13-30266
    allowed the use of general population statistics for this purpose. 107 Second, this
    disparity is exactly in the range the Supreme Court has found sufficient for a
    prima facie case. 108 Fifth Circuit precedent confirms that these numbers are
    enough. 109 Moreover, the absolute disparity using eligible statistics is 22.3%. 110
    The district court did not err in finding that Woodfox had made out his prima
    facie case.
                                                 VI
           The prima facie case made by Woodfox “therefore shifted the burden of
    proof to the State to dispel the inference of intentional discrimination.” 111
    Before proceeding to the rebuttal case, however, we deal with the evidentiary
    stages the district court set up for the proceedings.
           The district court split its hearing into three stages. Stage One was to be
    the prima facie case. The prima facie case, as discussed above, was for between
    1980 and March 1993. And it covered grand jury foreperson selections for all
    of West Feliciana Parish, i.e., it covered grand jury foreperson selections by
    both Judge Ramshur (the appointing judge in Woodfox’s re-indictment) and
    Judge William Kline. Stage Two was to be the State’s rebuttal, both as to
    statistics and race-neutral criteria used in the selection of grand jury
    forepersons. Stage Three was to be Woodfox’s reply because once the rebuttal
    was successful, the presumption of discrimination would disappear and
    Woodfox would again have the burden of showing discriminatory intent on the
    
    
           107  See Rideau, 237 F.3d at 486 (using general population statistics).
           108  See Castaneda, 430 U.S. at 495–96; Fouche, 396 U.S. at 359; Jones, 389 U.S. at 24;
    Whitus, 385 U.S. at 552; Sims, 389 U.S. at 407.
            109 See Rideau, 237 F.3d at 486 (holding that disparity was enough where African-
    
    Americans were 18.5% of the parish’s male population over 21 and 16-2/3% of registered
    voters, but only 5% of the grand jury venire).
            110 The State takes issue with the use of Woodfox’s eligible population statistics for
    
    the prima facie case because they were not developed until Stage Three. Even accepting this
    contention, however, we find the general population statistics from Stage One were enough.
            111 Castaneda, 430 U.S. at 497–98.
    
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                                            No. 13-30266
    part of Judge Ramshur. This framework parallels the Supreme Court’s
    Batson 112 framework, which “(1) requir[es] defendants to establish a prima
    facie case of discrimination, (2) ask[s] prosecutors then to offer a race-neutral
    explanation for their use of the peremptory, and then (3) require[es]
    defendants to prove that the neutral reason offered is pretextual.” 113
            The State argues that this three-stage process is not allowed under
    Castaneda; that although the district court pronounced that it did not need to
    reach Stage Three, it implicitly did so because it used Woodfox’s eligible
    population statistics as the proper baseline, which were developed in Stage
    Three. While we agree, we do not find any reversible error. First, the Batson
    framework is not an exact analogy to the Castaneda framework. While in
    Batson a simple articulation of any race-neutral reason moves the process to
    the next stage, we have found the rebuttal stage of Castaneda to encompass
    more:         it   is   an   examination     into   whether       there    was        intentional
    discrimination. 114 Thus, in Castaneda challenges, Stages Two and Three are
    really one and the same. Second, it is evident that the district court had to
    reach the evidence in Stage Three. As we discuss below, the State provided a
    statistical rebuttal and Woodfox a statistical reply. For the district court to rely
    on Woodfox’s statistical reply, it necessarily reached what it termed Stage
    Three. This presents no reversible error. Even considering all the Stage Two
    and Three evidence together, the State fails in its rebuttal case.
                                                  VII
            In rebuttal of the prima facie case, the State renews its arguments that
    the eligible population statistics used by Woodfox were not appropriate and
    that, in any case, the statistical disparity was not enough.
    
    
            112 Batson v. Kentucky, 
    476 U.S. 79
     (1986).
            113 Miller-El v. Dretke, 
    545 U.S. 231
    , 267 (2005) (Breyer, J., concurring).
            114 Guillory v. Cain, 
    303 F.3d 647
    , 650 (5th Cir. 2002).
    
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                                      No. 13-30266
                                            A
          As Castaneda suggests, the State in rebuttal tried to introduce its own
    eligible population statistics. The State introduced an expert according to
    whom the eligible population statistics for the Parish showed that African-
    Americans were only 36.62% of the population eligible for grand jury
    foreperson service. The district court rejected the use of this figure, concluding
    that the appropriate baseline for comparison was 40.8% from Woodfox’s
    eligible population statistics. We agree.
          To understand the problematic nature of the State’s 36.62% baseline, it
    is important to understand how it was derived. The State’s expert started with
    the voter rolls for West Feliciana Parish. He then proceeded to screen out those
    people on the voter rolls who would be ineligible to serve as grand jurors, and
    did so by using illiteracy as his screening factor. But public records only
    contained the illiteracy data for 1980–1985 and 1988–1993. Moreover, only the
    data from 1980–1985 were broken down by race, and they indicated that 97.8%
    to 98% of illiterate voters were African-American. The expert used the smaller
    of these numbers (97.8%) and applied it to the 1988–1993 data to derive the
    percentage of illiterate voters who were African-American. Then, for the
    missing time period of 1986–1987, he used a regression analysis to determine
    the number of illiterate voters in the two year period. Finally, he then
    combined this illiteracy data with the voter rolls to conclude that African-
    Americans were only 36.62% of the eligible population. In sum, this analysis
    relies on limited information about literacy rates from 1980–1985 and no
    evidence of literacy rates, broken down by race, from 1985–1993. Given this
    incomplete picture, we cannot find reversible error in the district court’s
    refusal to rely upon it. In Barksdale, for example, we similarly rejected the
    
    
    
    
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                                         No. 13-30266
    opinion of a state’s expert footed on his statistical analysis where he was
    “overzealous in his adjustment of the eligible population.” 115
          The type of eligible population statistics provided by Woodfox have
    already been accepted by the Louisiana Supreme Court. First, the Louisiana
    Supreme Court has held that for the purposes of a grand jury foreperson
    discrimination claim, a petitioner can use the percentage of a racial group from
    the non-foreperson grand jurors as representative of eligible population
    statistics. 116 As to the State’s argument that Woodfox’s eligible population
    statistics are merely a sample and not the whole population, “common sense
    tells us that the group of grand jurors who actually served is . . . a randomly-
    selected sample or subset of” the eligible population. 117 More importantly, the
    district court concluded that the State’s statistics “relied on more incomplete
    data” than the statistics relied on by Woodfox. 118 It further found that “the
    State has altered the numbers to reduce the baseline of eligible African-
    Americans.” 119 Given the fact-intensive nature of the competing statistical
    inquiries and the district court’s through review of these questions, we hold
    the district court did not clearly err in finding that the appropriate baseline for
    eligible population statistics was 40.8%.
                                                 B
          The State also argues that Woodfox failed to show statistical significance
    in the disparity. As both parties acknowledge, there are other statistical
    methods besides absolute disparity, such as disparity in standard deviations
    as well as hypothesis testing (including one-tailed and two-tailed testing).
    
    
    
    
          115 Barksdale, 639 F.2d at 1125–26.
          116 Langley, 813 So. 2d at 371–72.
          117 Id. at 369–70.
          118 Woodfox, 926 F. Supp. 2d at 848.
          119 Id. at 850.
    
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                                           No. 13-30266
           We begin with a necessary observation. While it is true that Castaneda
    discussed disparity in standard deviations, the Supreme Court conducted its
    analysis in absolute disparity terms by holding that a 40% disparity was
    enough to establish a prima facie case. 120 Indeed, we have “referred to
    statistical methods other than absolute disparity, but have never found a
    constitutional violation based on the data produced by such methods.” 121 In
    this case, the absolute disparities shown are within the range traditionally
    accepted by the Supreme Court to establish a prima facie case of
    discrimination.
           However, the gravamen of the State’s argument is that the absolute
    disparities shown are meaningless because they are statistically insignificant.
    The State argues that under the 40.8% baseline of eligible population
    statistics, the disparity is only 2.37 standard deviations. 122 Woodfox argues
    that standard deviations are not the appropriate method of measuring
    statistical significance. He argues next that under the more accurate one-tailed
    and two-tailed testing, he has shown statistical significance for both baselines.
           We begin first with the disparity in standard deviations. The source of
    the difficulty is the Supreme Court’s general language in Castaneda, offering
    a description of standard deviation, but not an explanation of its context or use
    with regard to binomial distributions. As the Court explained:
                  If the jurors were drawn randomly from the general
                  population, then the number of Mexican-Americans in
                  the sample could be modeled by a binomial
    
    
           120 Compare Castaneda, 430 U.S. at 496, with id. at 496 n.17 (discussing disparity in
    terms of standard deviations).
           121 United States v. Maskeny, 
    609 F.2d 183
    , 190 (5th Cir. 1980) (citing Berry v. Cooper,
    
    
    577 F.2d 322
    , 326 n.11 (5th Cir. 1978) and United States v. Goff, 
    509 F.2d 825
    , 826–27 & n.3
    (5th Cir. 1975), cert. denied, 
    423 U.S. 857
     (1975)).
           122 The State also argues that under the 36.62% baseline, the disparity is 1.95
    
    standard deviations. We need not concern ourselves with this argument, however, because
    we have already rejected the State’s eligible population statistics.
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                                           No. 13-30266
                    distribution. Given that 79.1% of the population is
                    Mexican-American, the expected number of Mexican-
                    Americans among the 870 persons summoned to serve
                    as grand jurors over the 11-year period is
                    approximately 688. The observed number is 339. Of
                    course, in any given drawing some fluctuation from
                    the expected number is predicted. The important
                    point, however, is that the statistical model shows that
                    the results of a random drawing are likely to fall in the
                    vicinity of the expected value. The measure of the
                    predicted fluctuations from the expected value is the
                    standard deviation, defined for the binomial
                    distribution as the square root of the product of the
                    total number in the sample (here 870) times the
                    probability of selecting a Mexican- American (0.791)
                    times the probability of selecting a non-Mexican-
                    American (0.209). Thus, in this case the standard
                    deviation is approximately 12. As a general rule for
                    such large samples, if the difference between the
                    expected value and the observed number is greater
                    than two or three standard deviations, then the
                    hypothesis that the jury drawing was random would
                    be suspect to a social scientist. The 11-year data here
                    reflect a difference between the expected and observed
                    number of Mexican-Americans of approximately 29
                    standard deviations. 123
    
    Despite its generality, two important lessons are fairly drawn from this
    discussion. First, in Castaneda, the difference between the expected and
    observed number was 29 standard deviations, very different from the 2.37
    standard deviations present in this case. Second, and importantly, the
    Supreme Court did not define the number of standard deviations necessary to
    offer a statistically significant result. Instead, it observed only that a difference
    greater than 2 or 3 standard deviations would cause a social scientist to doubt
    that the difference had occurred by chance. This is important because the State
    
    
          123   Castaneda, 430 U.S. at 496 n.17.
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                                        No. 13-30266
    primarily argues that a standard deviation between 2 and 3 is a “gray zone,”
    not necessarily implicating statistically significance. Since the disparity is only
    2.37 standard deviations, the State argues that Woodfox has not shown
    statistical significance.
          We need not linger further here because the district court found the one-
    tailed and two-tailed tests more appropriate and addressed the statistical
    significance issue in those terms. Woodfox’s expert explained that standard
    deviation is a crude tool to analyze symmetric, bell-shaped, normally-
    distributed data, but does not work where, as here, the data is not
    symmetrically distributed. Again, given the fact-intensive nature of the
    statistical inquiry, we can find no clear error in the district court’s opting to
    use the one-tailed and two-tailed tests.
          The basics of hypothesis testing (including one-tailed and two-tailed
    tests) are explained through two simple examples. First, suppose that 50% of
    the population eligible to serve as jurors in a county are women. 124 A jury is
    drawn from a panel of 350 persons selected by the clerk of the court, but the
    panel includes only 102 women, i.e., less than 50%. 125 Hypothesis testing
    answers the question of whether the shortfall in women can be explained by
    the mere play of random chance. 126 A statistician would formulate and test a
    null hypothesis, which in this case would see the panel of 350 as 350 persons
    drawn at random from the larger eligible population. 127 The expected number
    of women would be 50% of 350, which is 175. 128 The observed number is
    
    
    
    
          124David H. Kaye & David A. Freedman, Reference Guide on Statistics, in Reference
    Manual on Scientific Evidence 211, 249 (3d ed. 2011).
         125 Id.
         126 Id.
         127 Id.
         128 Id.
    
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                                        No. 13-30266
    obviously less: 102. 129 The shortfall is the difference between 175 and 102:
    73. 130 Hypothesis testing answers the question of how likely it is to find this
    disparity between the numbers—the probability is called the p-value. 131 “Large
    p-values indicate that a disparity can easily be explained by the play of
    chance.” 132 “[I]f p is very small, something other than chance must be
    involved.” 133 “In practice, statistical analysts typically use levels of 5% and 1%”
    for statistical significance. 134
          Second, to demonstrate the difference between one-tailed and two-tailed
    testing, suppose a coin is tossed 1000 times and the result is 532 heads. 135 “The
    null hypothesis to be tested asserts that the coin is fair.” 136 If correct, the
    chance of getting 532 or more heads is 2.3%; in other words, the p-value is
    2.3%. 137 This is called one-tailed testing. 138 Alternatively, a statistician can
    compute the chance of getting 532 or more heads or 468 heads or fewer. 139 The
    p-value for this example would be 4.6%. 140 This is called two-tailed testing. 141
          We discuss these basics of statistical analysis to accent the fact that at
    the district court level, the parties divided over which test was more
    appropriate: one-tailed or two-tailed. While agreeing that a p-value of 5% or
    smaller showed statistical significance for two-tailed testing, they disagreed
    about the significance level for one-tailed testing. The State argued that a p-
    
    
    
          129 Id.
          130 Id.
          131 Id.
          132 Id. at 250.
          133 Id.
          134 Id. at 251.
          135 Id. at 255.
          136 Id.
          137 Id.
          138 Id.
          139 Id.
          140 Id.
          141 Id.
    
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                                          No. 13-30266
    value of 2.5% or smaller showed statistical significance for one-tailed testing,
    while Woodfox argued that 5% or smaller would do.
          The district court found it unnecessary to solve these problems. Under
    the 40.8% eligible population baseline, the p-value for one-tailed testing was
    1.26% and for two-tailed testing was 1.85%. Both p-values were below the
    threshold required to show statistical significance. We do not find any clear
    error in the district court finding.
          Therefore, the State’s attempt to rebut the prima facie cases using
    statistics does not persuade. The district court did not err in finding as such.
                                               VIII
          The State also renews its arguments that it rebutted the prima facie case
    by demonstrating the use of race-neutral criteria in the selection of grand jury
    forepersons. Such a rebuttal case operates by “showing that permissible
    racially neutral selection criteria and procedures have produced the
    monochromatic result.” 142 “[A]ffirmations of good faith in making individual
    selections are insufficient to dispel a prima facie case of systematic
    exclusion.” 143 But the “presumption of discriminatory conduct may be
    successfully rebutted by testimony of responsible public officials if that
    testimony establishes the use of racially neutral selection procedures.” 144
          During the time relevant time period, the two judges of the 21st Judicial
    District appointed grand jury forepersons in West Feliciana Parish: the late
    Judge Ramshur and Judge Kline.
          Judge Kline testified at the federal evidentiary hearing. According to
    Judge Kline, he would think of someone who would be a good foreperson and
    would attempt to contact them during the morning of the venire. If he did not
    
    
          142 Alexander v. Louisiana, 
    405 U.S. 625
    , 632 (1972).
          143 Id.
          144 Guice v. Fortenberry (Guice II), 722 F.2d 276,281 (5th Cir. 1984).
    
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                                     No. 13-30266
    know someone on the venire, he sought facts about the person, not opinions,
    about whether he or she would be good foreperson. Judge Kline explained that
    various criteria mattered, including character, communication skills, patience,
    independence, reputation and education. But while education and employment
    were important, they were not determinative. Instead, Judge Kline sought
    “basic education” and looked for employment because it “reflected some
    dependability.” But Judge Kline also stated that he did not want to choose only
    people with advanced degrees because that would eliminate “a whole body of
    good folks with good common sense.” Judge Kline also stated that he actively
    tried to be inclusive, and appointed women and African-American forepersons
    without as much education as others in the pool but who were “representative
    of the community.” Finally, Judge Kline clarified that he could only speak to
    his own selection procedures.
          Because Judge Ramshur passed away in 2006, the State presented other
    officials familiar with his selection process. The State presented Judge George
    H. Ware, Jr., who was the District Attorney of West Feliciana Parish from 1985
    through 1996. Ware testified that he would meet with the judges as they were
    selecting the foreperson and discuss potential selections. He testified that the
    question the judges asked him suggested they were seeking information about
    “community leadership role, responsibility in the community, background,
    whether or not this person was a gossip.” Occasionally, the judges would ask
    him questions about the potential foreperson’s job and family. The State also
    presented Jesse Means, the Assistant District Attorney for the 20th Judicial
    District from 1985 through 2006. Means testified that while Judge Ramshur
    never asked him for advice, on one occasion, he advised the Judge not to select
    a person. But this testimony was given only under proffer as it was hearsay
    testimony. In totality, Means testified that he did not give Judge Ramshur
    “specific advice about specific people” because the Judge did not need it.
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                                            No. 13-30266
    Finally, the State also presented other witnesses to attest to the race-neutral
    selection by Judge Ramshur. Much of this testimony is irrelevant or was
    offered under proffer. As an example, the former clerk of the court in East
    Feliciana Parish testified as to what she thought Judge Ramshur’s practices
    were in East Feliciana. 145
           This rebuttal evidence is more that affirmations of good faith that
    discrimination did not occur, but it is not the sort of evidence that rebuts a
    prima facie case. 146 The State contends that subjective criteria like “character”
    and “leadership” are acceptable. We need not disagree, although our past
    pronouncements have created some confusion on this point. 147 But the
    difficulty is that while Judge Kline was able to articulate race-neutral criteria,
    there is almost no evidence that Judge Ramshur employed race-neutral
    criteria, either objective or subjective. What makes matters worse is that the
    only information the judges received about the people on the grand jury venire
    were the names, addresses, and in later years, the telephone numbers. As we
    have noted before, “[t]he presence of identified objective criteria known in
    advance to the appointing judge would have mitigated the difficulties of the
    selection system then in place.” 148 As far as we are able to discern, Judge
    
    
           145 See Guice II, 722 F.2d at 278 (focusing attention on statistics from and the selection
    procedure in the parish where the indictment issued despite testimony concerning other
    parishes); Crandell v. Cain, 
    421 F. Supp. 2d 928
    , 938 (W.D. La. 2004) (noting that there is no
    legal basis for examining statistics from a sister parish).
           146 See Guice II, 722 F.2d at 281 (holding that rebuttal was unsuccessful because
    
    testimony did not reveal objective criteria and showed judge selected someone he knew
    always); United States v. Perez-Hernandez, 
    672 F.2d 1380
    , 1387 (11th Cir. 1982) (holding that
    the rebuttal was successful when eight district judges testified to similar guidelines used to
    make foreperson selections).
           147 Compare Johnson v. Puckett, 
    929 F.2d 1067
    , 1073 (5th Cir. 1991) (“This court has
    
    required that testimony rebutting a prima facie case of discrimination establish the use of
    objective, racially neutral selection procedures.”), with Guillory, 303 F.3d at 650–51
    (accepting such subjective race-neutral criteria as “who would be fair,” “independent,” and
    “not necessarily go along”).
           148 Guillory, 303 F.3d at 651.
    
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                                           No. 13-30266
    Ramshur mostly selected people known to him without any systematic attempt
    to obtain information about qualifications. Indeed, Judge Ramshur’s grand
    jury venire transcripts shows a lack of questions as to qualifications. We also
    take special note of the fact that of the five African-American grand jury
    forepersons during the relevant time period, Judge Kline selected four. Thus,
    Judge Ramshur selected only one. Indeed, as Woodfox points out, Judge
    Ramshur selected a grand jury foreperson nineteen times during this same
    period.
           The State does suggest a plethora of race-neutral criteria that can
    account for the disparity, such as employment, education, character, and
    independence. In support, the State provided a lot of data. First, it compiled a
    list of grand jury forepersons between 1980 and March 1993 to show that they
    all shared similar education and employment characteristics. Second, it
    produced U.S. census data showing educational attainment by race for 1980
    and 1990. These data corroborate that African-Americans were less educated
    than the general population. Third, it produced U.S. census data showing
    unemployment and lack of participation in the labor force by race for 1980 and
    1990. These data also corroborate that African-American were less employed
    and participated less in the labor force that the general population. Yet the
    problem with this evidence is that it fails to persuade when considered in light
    of the fact that there is no evidence Judge Ramshur actually knew about the
    characteristics when picking the foreperson. 149
           The State’s argument that West Feliciana Parish is small and the judges
    knew all its members is no more than a good faith assertion. Moreover, the
    
    
    
           149Guice II, 722 F.2d at 281 (“Judge Adams' testimony regarding the qualifications of
    the particular individual he chose as foreman of the grand jury does not undermine our
    reasoning when considered in the light of the fact that he testified that he made no inquiries
    regarding the qualifications of any of the other venire members.”).
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                                      No. 13-30266
    State’s assertion that the judges made proactive attempts to include women
    and minorities fails to convince. Only Judge Kline made such an assertion, and
    we have no reason to believe that Judge Ramshur made similar attempts.
    Furthermore, the records reveals that Judge Ramshur in particular passed
    over equally qualified African-American candidates to appoint white
    forepersons. Woodfox identified specific African-American venire members and
    their employment and education, and compared those qualifications to the
    white forepersons actually selected. For almost every year, Woodfox can point
    to African-Americans in the grand jury venire that had comparable
    educational and employment experience to the selected foreperson. This
    bolsters our conclusion.
          We hold then that the State has not demonstrated reversible error in the
    district court’s holding that it failed to rebut the prima facie case.
                                            IX
          For these reasons, we AFFIRM the district court’s grant of habeas relief.
    
    
    
    
                                            37