Jury selection prep work for the Georgia prosecutors included singling out all the black potential jurors and ranking them against one another. If there was no way to keep them all off the jury, the prosecutors’ notes indicated, there was one who might be “okay.” But certainly not “B#1” — he was at the top of their list labeled “Definite NOs.” As it turned out, there were not any “B”s — the lawyers’ shorthand for African Americans — on the jury in Rome, Ga., that in 1987 convicted black teenager Timothy Tyrone Foster of the brutal murder of an elderly white woman and sentenced him to death. The rare discovery of the prosecutors’ racially coded notes is at the center of a coming Supreme Court case requesting a new trial for Foster. But the bigger issue for the justices, when they hear the case Nov. 2, is whether allowing lawyers to peremptorily dismiss potential jurors has simply become a way to discriminate.Black death row inmate sentenced by white jury before Supreme Court - CBS News
"What we really found was an arsenal smoking guns," he said. In the notes, the name of each potential black juror was highlighted. The word black was circled next to the race question on questionnaires. In the list of possible jurors, titled "definite no's" the top five people are black. During closing arguments, the prosecutor urged the all-white jury to sentence Foster to death in part to deter other people out there in the projects from doing the same again. On Monday, Bright will argue the Supreme Court should grant Foster a new trial and force trial judges to hold juror challenges to a higher standard. "They have to scrutinize the reasons that prosecutors give and that they can't just give them at face value because if that is going to happen then this is going to continue from now on," said Bright.Racism Is Rampant In Jury Selection. The Supreme Court Can't Fix It.
Timothy Foster has spent almost 30 years on Georgia's death row. On Monday, his lawyer will appear before the Supreme Court to fight for his life. That's because Foster v. Chatman, a high-profile case about racism in jury selection, is really not a case about racism in jury selection. It's a case about racism in the application of the death penalty. Consider what Stephen Lanier, the prosecutor who tried Foster in 1987, told the all-white jury who heard the case. During the penalty phase of the trial, he said a death sentence was appropriate for Foster to send a message "to other people out there in the projects." Foster lived in government housing, and about 90 percent of his neighbors were black.