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Supreme Court bars use of race in picking juries

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The trial judge accepted the explanations and brushed aside allegations by Snyder's lawyer that race was playing an illegal role in the trial.

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court said that action by the trial judge was a "clear error."

Alito said the first justification for excluding Brooks does not appear to have been relied on by the trial judge. But he added that the second justification was "suspicious." Alito writes: "The prosecutor's proffer of this pretextual explanation naturally gives rise to an inference of discriminatory intent."

Despite the prosecutor's announced concern about Brooks and his busy schedule at school, prospective white jurors who were facing significantly more acute scheduling problems were not subject to the same questioning, Alito said.

In a dissent, Justices Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia said that the evaluation of a prosecutor's motives in assembling a jury is a credibility judgment that best belongs to the trial judge who is present and can witness events as they unfold. Appeals court judges should be reluctant to second-guess those judgments years later.

Justice Thomas said there is no evidence that the trial judge committed clear error. In addition, he said the majority justices should not have relied on a comparison between the treatment of black prospective jurors and white prospective jurors because that comparison was not presented as an argument until the case reached the US Supreme Court.

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