Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Death Row Inmate's All-White Verdict Dropped

The US Supreme Court has thrown out a black death row inmate's decades-old conviction, finding that prosecutors unlawfully excluded black jurors at his trial.
Timothy Foster, 48, was found guilty in 1987 of murdering 79-year-old retired Georgia schoolteacher Queen White.
In a 7-1 ruling on Monday, the Supreme Court overturned the conviction and death sentence by an all white jury.
Mr Foster's attorneys had argued since his trial that prosecutors used race to determine the makeup of the jury pool.
But it was not until 2006, when they obtained the prosecution's jury selection notes, that the case began its slow march to the Supreme Court.
The notes showed that the race of all four black members of the pool of potential jurors was highlighted, indicating "an explicit reliance on race", Mr Foster's attorneys argued.
The notes also revealed that the prosecution marked the names of the black prospective jurors with a "B", highlighted them in green and circled the word "black" next to the race question on juror questionnaires.
In the Supreme Court's majority opinion, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the prosecutors "were motivated in substantial part by race".
He said the notes "plainly belie the state's claim that it exercised its strikes (removing a potential juror) in a 'color blind' manner".
A 1986 Supreme Court ruling made it unlawful to take race into account when excluding potential jurors from a trial.
Justice Clarence Thomas, the only black member of the high court, was the lone dissenter.
Mr Foster, meanwhile, could still face a retrial.
Prosecutors said the then-18-year-old broke into Ms White's home in the middle of the night, broke her jaw and sexually assaulted her before strangling her and stealing items from her house.

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