Prosecutors in the 1987 Timothy Tyrone Foster death row case conducted jury selection in a very peculiar manner. According to slate.com, during the jury selection process they highlighted the names of each prospective African American juror on a series of of jury lists and identified them as “representing Blacks.”
On each black juror’s questionnaire, prosecutors circled the response “black” next to a question about race. They also referred to three black jurors as “B#1,” “B#2,” and “B#3” in their notes. Finally, the prosecution’s investigator ranked each black juror against the others—in case “it comes down to having to pick one of the black jurors.”
The prosecutors struck each black candidate, one by one, from the jury pool until none remained.
At the end of the trial, prosecutors asked the jury to impose the death penalty on Foster, to “deter other people out there in the projects.” The all-white jury convicted Foster of murder and sentenced him to death.
Foster, a black man, appealed his conviction to the Georgia Supreme Court. Striking black jurors on account of their race is unconstitutional, and Foster believed he deserved a new trial. But the Georgia Supreme Court rejected his claim. Prosecutors had not “demonstrated purposeful discrimination” in striking black jurors, the court held. There was no racial bias in the prosecution of Timothy Tyrone Foster. His execution could move forward.
On Tuesday of this week, the highest court in the land announced it will review the Georgia Supreme Court ruling on the Foster case.
Barbara R. Arnwine, President and CEO of the Lawyers’ Committee For Civil Rights Under Law joined Roland Martin on NewsOne Now to discuss this case of blatant racism where prosecutors showed implicit bias in the jury selection process.
Arnwine told Martin the prosecutors were determined to “railroad this man in to death row” for the alleged murder of a White woman.
“When there was a Batson Challenge presented because they (Timothy Tyrone Foster’s attorneys) said that we believe they have used racial discrimination to exclude all the Black jurors — there were four potential Black jurors and they struck every one including one woman because they said she was a headstart teacher and that would make her too sympathetic because she worked with children — little children. Whereas they let Whites on the jury who were also teachers stay on it.”
Watch Roland Martin, Barbara R. Arnwine and the NewsOne Now Straight Talk Panel discuss this case of blatant racism in the video clip above.
Subscribe to the “NewsOne Now” Audio Podcast on iTunes.