US Supreme Court overturns black man death’s penalty

May 23, 2016 6:40 pm

An AFP file photo shows the Supreme Court in Washington, DC.

The US Supreme Court has overturned a death sentence handed to an African American man in Georgia, ruling that prosecutors unconstitutionally barred all potential black jurors from his trial.
The justices ruled on Monday in favor of Timothy Foster, who was convicted of killing a white woman in 1986.
Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the court that prosecutors in Georgia “were motivated in substantial part by race” when they tried to keep African Americans off the jury.
The decision, that came about 29 years after the death penalty conviction, might enable Foster to win a fresh trial.
Foster’s lawyers used the Georgia Open Records Act to obtain a copy of his prosecution file. The file included several notes showing that prosecutors tried to keep blacks off the jury.
Among the notes was a list of potential jurors that had handwritten letter “B” next to the names of African Americans. Those with a “B” letter were rejected for the jury under a process that allows prosecutors to select jurors.
The notes were presented at a Supreme Court hearing last November.
“The contents of the prosecution’s file…plainly belie the State’s claims that it exercised its strikes in a ‘color-blind’ manner. The sheer number of references to race in that file is arresting,” Roberts wrote.
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