Friday, March 21, 2008

snyder v. louisiana

in snyder v. louisiana, the u.s. supreme court has overturned a murder conviction based on racial discrimination in jury selection. i haven't been following the court very closely these days, but i think the 7-2 decision might come as a surprise.

here's jeannie shawl's story and helpful links at jurist:

The US Supreme Court 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, where Allen Snyder was convicted and sentenced to death for the murder. The Supreme Court reversed the Louisiana Supreme Court's decision 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 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 per Justice Alito, along with a dissent from Justice Thomas. AP has more. SCOTUSblog has additional coverage.

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