In 1986 at eighteen years of age, African-American Timothy Foster was charged with murdering Queen White, an elderly white woman. During his trial, the prosecution used peremptory strikes against all four qualified black jurors. The defense objected to the strikes based on the rule in Batson v. Kentucky, prohibiting peremptory strikes solely based on a prospective juror’s race. The trial court held that the prosecution met its burden for overcoming Batson, and allowed the strikes to stand. An all-white jury convicted Foster for murder and imposed the death penalty. All of Foster’s appeals resulted in the courts upholding the trial court’s verdict.
The U.S. Supreme Court will decide, “Whether the Georgia courts erred in failing to recognize race discrimination under Batson v. Kentucky in the extraordinary circumstances of this death penalty case.” The Court held oral argument on November 2, 2015. Professor Griffin provided commentary here.