Opinions Relating to Orders - 2022

Thomas v. Lumpkin

The petition for a writ of certiorari is denied. JUSTICE SOTOMAYOR, with whom JUSTICE KAGAN and JUSTICE JACKSON join, dissenting from the denial of certiorari.

Petitioner Andre Thomas was sentenced to death for the murder of his estranged wife, their son, and her daughter from a previous relationship. Thomas is Black, his wife was white, and their son was biracial.

Thomas was convicted and sentenced to death by an all-white jury, three of whom expressed firm opposition to interracial marriage and procreation in their written juror questionnaires. Among other reasons, these jurors opined that such relationships were against God’s will and that people “should stay with [their] Blood Line.” App. to Pet. for Cert. 395a. Despite their declarations of bias, Thomas’ counsel not only failed to exercise peremptory strikes on these individuals or move to strike them for cause, but failed even to question two of the three jurors about their stated bias and whether it could affect their deliberations.

Without objection from Thomas’ counsel or the State’s attorney, the three jurors were seated. Together with nine other white jurors, they convicted and sentenced Thomas to death. Thomas’ conviction and death sentence clearly violate the constitutional right to the effective assistance of counsel.