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Supreme Court denies review in death penalty case involving jury discrimination

[JURIST] The US Supreme Court on Monday denied review [order list, PDF] in the Alabama death penalty case of Floyd v. Alabama [SCOTUSblog materials] in which attorneys argue that African-American jurors were improperly excluded from the jury.

The petitioner, Christopher Floyd, was tried by an all-white jury in a county in which 26 percent of its residents are African-American. Floyd's attorneys stated that the prosecutor struck 10 out of the 11 qualified African-American potential jury members and that the prosecutor marked potential African-American jurors with a "B'' to indicate their race on the jury list. The defense attorneys further argue that the reasons the prosecutor gave for striking African-American and female jurors were contradicted by the record.

In agreeing with the court's decision not to take on the case, Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote a short statement [text] in which she explained that it was the "unusual posture" of Floyd's case that made the case unsuitable for review.

However, Sotomayor also acknowledged that the case raises "serious concerns under [the court's] precedent," particularly Foster v. Chatman, in which the facts were substantially similar to the one at hand. Kn Foster, the court concluded that peremptory strikes of jurors "were 'motivated in substantial part by discriminatory intent'." She went on to state that the court's decision not to grant "certiorari should not be construed as complacence or an affirmance of all of the reasoning of the courts below." This type discrimination during jury-selection "'casts doubt on the integrity of the judicial process,' and places the fairness of a criminal proceeding in doubt."

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