Supreme Court Throws Out Death Sentence For Black Inmate In Georgia
The Supreme Court ruled decisively in favor of a death-row inmate in Georgia on Monday, chastising state prosecutors for improperly keeping African-Americans off the jury that convicted him of killing a white woman.
The justices ruled 7-1 in favor of death row inmate Timothy Tyrone Foster in underscoring the importance of rules they laid out in 1986 to prevent racial discrimination in the selection of juries.
Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the court that Georgia “prosecutors were motivated in substantial part by race” when they struck African-Americans from the jury pool.
But the court did nothing to limit peremptory strikes, lawyers’ ability to reject potential jurors without offering any reason. The late Thurgood Marshall once said that racial discrimination would persist in jury selection unless peremptory strikes were curtailed.
The outcome probably will enable Foster to win a new trial, 29 years after he was sentenced to death.
Justice Clarence Thomas dissented, saying he would have respected the decisions of state judges who sided with prosecutors and rejected Foster’s claims.
When the case was argued in November, the justices did little to hide their distaste for the tactics employed by prosecutors in north Georgia. Justice Elena Kagan said the case seemed as clear a violation “as a court is ever going to see.”
Clarence Thomas would be the ONLY one to dissent. Who else is shocked?