On Monday, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Georgia death row inmate Timothy Tyrone Foster. In a 7-1 decision, the High Court ruled that the prosecution in Foster’s case had illegally discriminated against potential jurors based on race.
Foster was convicted in 1987 for the brutal murder and sexual assault of 79-year-old Queen Madge White, a white woman. He was convicted by an all-white jury.
Race targeted in jury selection
Twenty years later, attorneys for Foster, who is black, acquired notes from the prosecution in Foster’s case. In a list of potential jurors, black citizens were indicated with the letter “b.” The prosecution had them removed. The majority sided with Chief Justice Joh Roberts who stated, “the focus on race in the prosecution’s file plainly demonstrates a concerted effort to keep black prospective jurors off the jury.”
Lawyers from both sides are granted “peremptory challenges” during jury selection, in which they are permitted to remove jurors from the pool without explanation. They are not allowed to eliminate jurors based on race, however, which has been backed up by multiple Supreme Court rulings. Foster’s attorney, Stephen Bright of the Southern Center for Human Rights, says that the practice of racial discrimination in jury selection continues to be widespread.
Trial still ahead for Foster
The Supreme Court ruling does not overturn Foster’s conviction, but he and his attorneys have earned the chance to petition the Georgia state court for a new trial. The decision will undoubtedly open the door for other inmates to seek retrial in cases with similar circumstances.
Any accusations of crime are a serious matter. If you are being accused of or have already been convicted of committing a crime that you suspect is due to discrimination, a criminal defense attorney will provide you with equal representation under the law. With over 35 years of experience assisting clients with post-conviction procedures, Russell Spatz provides strong representation for his clients. He will do everything in his power to uphold your rights and protect your best interests. To schedule a consultation, call 305-442-0200.
De Vogue, A. (2016, May 23). Supreme Court sides with death row inmate. Retrieved May 23, 2016, from http://www.cnn.com/2016/05/23/politics/supreme-court-racial-discrimination/index.html