By ROBERT BARNES, Washington Post, October 25, 2015
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.