It shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise, given the circumstances—a black man admitting to the murder of a white woman in the deep South—that some white jurors might secretly harbor racist views. The surprising part was that this juror, Thomas Buffington, came right out and said it. And what should have been the most surprising development of all (alas, it wasn’t) came this past August, when a federal appeals court, presented with ample evidence, refused to consider how racism might have affected Fults’ fate.
How do we know when we’ve crossed the line, when our system of justice simply can’t tolerate a result that its technical rules encourage? Here’s Buffington’s full statement: “That nigger got just what should have happened. Once he pled guilty, I knew I would vote for the death penalty because that’s what that nigger deserved.”
Racism doesn’t get much clearer than that. Now it’ll be up to the Supreme Court to decide whether the rules of evidence might, just this once, take a backseat to the principle that no man should be judged by the color of his skin.
It’s a long article but a urge anyone interested to take the time to read it. The details are rather shocking. The criminal justice system in our country is, to put it mildly, flawed. When you inject the death penalty into it the results can be horrific.