Racial Discrimination in Death-Penalty Jury Selection

Stephen B. Bright, the former President of the Southern Center for Human Rights, discusses the ongoing problem of racial discrimination in jury selection in death-penalty cases—an issue he has argued three times in the U.S. Supreme Court. He speaks with DPIC’s Anne Holsinger about the most recent of those cases, Foster v. Chatman, in which the Court granted Mr. Foster a new trial as a result of intentional discrimination by Columbus, Georgia prosecutors. He explains how the prosecutors’ notes, a piece of evidence that is rarely available, were critical in proving that prosecutors had targeted African-American jurors because of their race, and describes newly obtained jury selection notes that show Columbus prosecutors systematically struck African-American jurors in at least seven other capital cases. Mr. Bright explains why current law provides an insufficient remedy for this problem and offers suggestions to prevent the pervasive exclusion of people of color from death-penalty juries.