The U.S. Supreme Court voted 7-1 in favor of a Black death row inmate’s claim of race discrimination following an all-white jury’s decision in a 1986 murder. Justice Clarence Thomas was the lone ranger who voted no in the decision for Timothy Tyrone Foster.

Foster is currently on death row in Georgia for killing Queen Madge White, an elderly white woman.

Photo: Georgia Department via AP
Photo: Georgia Department via AP

Monday’s decision doesn’t overturn the guilty verdict, but could make it easier for Foster to receive a second trial.

Foster, who was 18 at the time, never denied killing the 79-year-old in her Georgia home. In 2006, Foster’s legal team obtained the prosecutor’s jury selection notes which indicate bias against Blacks serving on the jury in Foster’s trial. Their decision to exclude the four qualified jurors of color and selecting an all-white jury proved to be unconstitutional.

A “b” is written by the names of prospective Black jurors and highlighted in green.

Photo: Squire Patton Boggs LLP
Photo: Squire Patton Boggs LLP

To drive in the death penalty option, one prosecutor urged jurors in Foster’s sentencing phase to “deter other people out there in the projects”.

“And 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.

Despite the evidence, Thomas is the only justice who sided with the initial death row decision. He argues later implications will do more harm than good.

In his dissent, Thomas wrote, “But the Court today invites state prisoners to go searching for new “evidence” by demanding the files of the prosecutors who long ago convicted them. If those prisoners succeed, then apparently this Court’s doors are open to conduct the credibility determination anew. Alas, “every end is instead a new beginning” for a majority of this Court….Foster’s new evidence does not justify this Court’s reassessment of who was telling the truth nearly three decades removed from
voir dire.”

The Twitter jury threw the book at Thomas.

Do you think the public is being too harsh in regards to Clarence Thomas’ decision? Tell us your thoughts on the decision.

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