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Supreme Court overturns Louisiana death sentence in race-based jury challenge case

[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website; JURIST news archive] ruled Wednesday that a Louisiana death sentence should be overturned because the trial judge "committed clear error" in ruling on the defendant's objection to a prosecution peremptory jury challenge, which the defendant argued was based on race. The ruling came in Snyder v. Louisiana [LII case backgrounder; JURIST report], where Allen Snyder was convicted and sentenced to death for the murder. The Supreme Court reversed the Louisiana Supreme Court's decision [PDF text] to let Snyder's conviction stand.

The Snyder case gained notoriety when the prosecutor drew comparisons between the proceeding and the trial of OJ Simpson [CourtTV case materials] during sentencing when urging the jury to impose the death penalty. Snyder had argued that the prosecutor improperly used the comparison to create a race-based rationale for imposing the death penalty, but that issue was not addressed by the Supreme Court. Read the Court's opinion [text] per Justice Alito, along with a dissent [text] from Justice Thomas. AP has more. SCOTUSblog has additional coverage.

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