The U.S. Supreme Court refused on Monday to hear a Texas appeal about jury bias in a Black man’s death-penalty case. In the latest 6-3 split on capital punishment, the court's three Democratic appointees said in dissent that the court should have sent the case back to Texas for “proper consideration” of the issue that wasn’t considered on the merits. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals denied Kristopher Love “any meaningful review of his federal constitutional claim,” Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote for herself and Justices Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan.
In 2018, Love was convicted of killing Kendra Hatcher in a murder-for-hire plot. One of the jurors who sentenced him to death believed non-whites were more violent than whites. The trial judge denied Love’s attempt to strike the juror. The Texas appeals court said any error was harmless because Love was given two extra strikes earlier in jury selection, which he used before the juror at issue was questioned. “That decision was plainly erroneous,” Sotomayor wrote. “An already-expended peremptory strike is no cure for the seating of an allegedly biased juror." Seating a racially biased juror “can never be harmless,” she wrote. Texas officials said the justices don’t have jurisdiction because the state appeals court ruled against Love on state-law grounds.