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Supreme Court overturns death penalty conviction

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday overturned the murder conviction of an African-American many on death row in Texas, saying prosecutors unfairly kept African-Americans off the jury.

In a 6-3 decision, the justice said prosecutors engaged in "trickery" and used various tactics to bar jurors based on their race. "[W]hen this evidence on the issues raised is viewed cumulatively its direction is too powerful to conclude anything but discrimination," Justice David H. Souter said wrote for the majority.

Justice Clarence Thomas, the only African-American on the court, wrote a dissent that was joined by Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist and Justice Antonin Scalia. He said there were other ways to explain why prosecutors objected to jurors.

The court's decision means that Thomas Joe Miller-El will get another trial. He was convicted or murder in 1986.

Get the Story:
Justices Overturn Verdict, Cite Race (The Washington Post 6/14)
Supreme Court Rules for Texan on Death Row (The New York Times 6/14)

Decision Miller-El v. Dretke:
Syllabus | Opinion [Souter] | Concurrence [Breyer] | Dissent [Thomas]

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