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Supreme Court Sides With Death Row Inmate in Racial Discrimination Case

May 23, 2016  | 

The Supreme Court ruled Monday morning in favor of a death row inmate in a case concerning race discrimination in jury selection, reports CNN.

Timothy Tyrone Foster, an African-American, is on death row in Georgia for the 1987 murder of an elderly white woman, Queen Madge White. The jury that convicted him was all white. Twenty years after his sentence his attorneys obtained notes the prosecution team took while it was engaged in picking a jury, including marking potential jurors who were black had a "b" written by their name.

"The focus on race in the prosecution's file plainly demonstrates a concerted effort to keep black prospective jurors off the jury," Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the majority opinion. Justice Clarence Thomas was the only dissenter.

The 7-1 decision comes as a welcome relief to critics who say racial discrimination in jury selection persists across the country some 30 years after the Supreme Court ruled potential jurors cannot be struck because of race.

The decision does not vacate Foster's conviction; it opens the door for Foster to go back to the Georgia state court and argue for a new trial.

The case is likely to cause other inmates across the country with similar claims to come forward and to seek a new trial.


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