The Supreme Court rebuked the Georgia courts Monday for ignoring blatant evidence of racial bias when prosecutors deliberately excluded blacks from a jury that would later impose the death penalty against a young black man accused of murdering a white woman.
The 7-1 decision overturned the Georgia Supreme Court and told its judges to consider whether a new trial is warranted in the nearly 30-year-old case. His death sentence could be set aside as a result.
Chief Justice John G. Roberts described as “nonsense” the prosecutors’ claims that they excluded several blacks from the jury for legitimate reasons.
It is our “firm conviction,” he said, that the prosecutors were “motivated in substantial part by race” when they struck two black citizens from the jury. “Two peremptory strikes on the basis of race are two more than the Constitution allows,” he said.