The Supreme Court has unveiled more troubling events behind the decision to keep African-American jurors off a 1987 case against a Black man who was convicted of killing a White woman.
Justice Stephen Breyer and eight other justices have begun reviewing the racial tactics used to obtain a conviction in the case of Timothy Tyrone Foster. Out of the nine justices, six agreed Black jurors were given different treatment due to their skin color, according to Yahoo News. Foster could win a new trial if the Supreme Court rules in his favor.
Georgia native Foster was found guilty of killing Queen Madge White in her home in Rome, Ga. Prosecutors singled out potential African-American jurors by their race, with codes to establish an all-white jury for Foster. The 47-year-old is currently on death row.
Breyer and the court questioned prosecutor Stephen Lanier, who changed his reasoning behind leaving African-Americans off the jury. In addition to codes, one Black juror was kept off the case because her cousin was arrested. The court condemned the decision and questioned whether the juror even had a close relationship with the family member.
The same woman was kept off the jury because of her “close” age to Foster–the juror was 30, Foster was close to 19-years-old when the incident occurred. And yes, the aforementioned woman is Black.
Georgia courts have consistently rejected Foster’s claims of discrimination, even after his lawyers obtained the prosecution’s notes that revealed prosecutors’ focus on the black people in the jury pool. In one example, a handwritten note headed “Definite No’s” listed six people, of whom five were the remaining black prospective jurors.
The sixth person on the list was a white woman who made clear she would never impose the death penalty, Foster’s lawyer, Stephen Bright said Monday. “Even she ranked behind the black jurors,” Bright said.
Georgia Deputy Attorney General Beth Burton defended the prosecutors by explaining the decision to name each prospective Black jurors by “B#1,” ”B#2,” and “B#3.” Via Yahoo:
Burton tried to persuade the justices that the notes focused on black people in the jury pool because prosecutors were preparing to defend against discrimination claims. Burton said the Supreme Court’s ruling about race discrimination in jury selection was about a year old when Foster’s case went to trial. The 1986 decision in Batson v. Kentucky set up a system by which trial judges could evaluate claims of discrimination and the race-neutral explanations by prosecutors.
The Supreme Court will render a decision in Foster v. Chatman by late spring of 2016.
SOURCE: Yahoo News | VIDEO CREDIT: Inform
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