The U.S. Supreme Court Monday cleared the way for a new trial for a Georgia man convicted of murder and sentenced to death by an all-white jury, finding that prosecutors intentionally kept blacks off the jury.
“Prosecutors were motivated in substantial part by race,” wrote Chief Justice John Roberts, who was joined in the opinion by all but one of the justices. In his dissent, Clarence Thomas, the court’s only African-American member, said the court did not have jurisdiction to take up the case.
The jury was chosen for the death penalty trial of Timothy Tyrone Foster, who was 18 when he was charged with sexually molesting and killing a 79-year-old widow in Rome, Georgia in 1986. She was white.
During jury selection, prosecutors used a list of potential jurors that highlighted the names of blacks in green. Five black panelists qualified to serve were the first five on a prosecution list of “definite NO’s.” And prospective black jurors were noted as “B#1, B#2, and B#3.”
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