Stephen Bright, president of the Southern Center for Human Rights, admits he was surprised when the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear the case of his client Timothy Foster, a Georgia death row inmate who claims that all black potential jurors were systematically excluded from his trial jury in 1987.

In his petition, Bright had not told the court of any split among the circuits, and he was explicitly asking the justices to fix the errors made by Georgia courts in the “extraordinary circumstances” of Foster’s case. These are not the usual ingredients of a successful petition for certiorari.

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