Supreme Court throws out death sentence because it was issued by an all-white jury


We should not have racial discrimination in jury selection, but if we’re going to throw out convictions and retry convicts then shouldn’t we be doing so with cases where it could be proven that the finding of guilt was racially motivated?

From The Washington Post

The Supreme Court ruled Monday in favor of a black Georgia death row inmate who claimed that prosectors kept African Americans off the jury that convicted him of murdering an elderly white woman.

The court ruled 7 to 1 that Georgia prosecutors had improperly considered race when selecting a jury to judge Timothy Tyrone Foster. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote for the majority.

Justice Clarence Thomas, the lone African American on the court, dissented, saying that the evidence that prosecutors acted improperly was not strong enough to overturn Foster’s conviction.

The case was unusual because Foster’s lawyers, nearly two decades after the teenager’s conviction in 1987, gained access to prosecutors’ notes under Georgia’s open record laws.

The names of the black potential jurors were marked with a “B” and highlighted in green. Their race on juror questionnaires was circled. All were at the very top of a list labeled “Definite NOs,” and each was compared with the others in the case, according to the notes, in case “it comes down to having to pick one of the black jurors.”

In the end, they did not.

As you read what Foster did (below) keep in mind that the implication here is that his conviction was unfair because black people were supposedly systematically kept off the jury, which further implies that maybe he would have been acquitted.

Again, if that was the case that is wrong and actually unconstitutional, but that alone is not an indicator of a miscarriage of justice, and it seems like SCOTUS should have considered that, in my humble opinion. (but I’m no legal expert, so what do I know?)

Foster, then 18, was arrested for the murder of Queen Madge White, a 79-year-old widow and former elementary school teacher in Rome, Ga. According to prosecutors, “Foster broke into White’s home. He broke her jaw, coated her face with talcum powder, sexually molested her with a salad dressing bottle, and strangled her to death, all before taking items from her home.”

Turned in by his girlfriend, Foster acknowledged the crime. But there were questions about his limited intellectual capacity and whether he had acted alone.

His girlfriend turned him in, and “acknowledged” the crime (because the likely liberal reporter on this can’t use the word “admit”?) Who wants to bet the retrial will be a waste of time?

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