Is This White Prosecutor Racist? The Supreme Court Will Decide

The Supreme Court has decided to hear the case of Curtis Flowers, a man who has been tried six times for the same crime. In the case, the Court will decide if District Attorney Doug Evans used racial discrimination during jury selection to convict Flowers.

Twenty-two years ago, four people were murdered at Tardy Furniture in Winona, Mississippi. An all-white jury convicted Flowers, a former employee of the store and a black man, and sentenced him to death. His lawyers appealed the verdict on the grounds that Doug Evans had committed prosecutorial misconduct by striking everyone black from the jury.

Flowers and his lawyers won the appeal and got the conviction overturned, making Flowers once again an innocent man. He wasn’t a free man, though. Doug Evans immediately charged Flowers again and, once again, he was tried, convicted and sentenced to death. He’s been tried a total of six times. The first three trials ended in conviction and were then overturned on appeal. The following two trials ended in hung juries, divided along racial lines.

In the last trial in 2010, Flowers was once again convicted. Since then, his appeal has been making its way through the court system. It was even brought to the Supreme Court once before, but the court sent it back to the state court for further review. The state Supreme Court held up Flowers’ conviction, and now the U.S. Supreme Court will determine whether the state make a mistake.

Simply getting the case heard by the Court is a huge win for the Curtis Flowers case. The Supreme Court hears only about one percent of cases filed. The case is expected to be heard sometime before June, when both sides will present arguments before the court.

When looking at Flowers’ appeal, the court will also review whether the DA’s history of “adjudicated purposeful race discrimination” should be a factor in the case.

In the Dark, a podcast by AMP Reports, spent a season investigating the case. They found that there was very little evidence to suggest that Flowers had anything to do with the murders. Beyond that, they also found the District Attorney had a history of striking black people from juries.

Attorneys can strike jurors for all kinds of reasons, but not their race. It is a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment to strike someone from a jury because of their race.

However, the DA’s office under Doug Evans strikes black people from juries at a rate 4.5 times higher than white people. They struck 50 percent of all black jurors, and only 11 percent of all white jurors.

The Supreme Court now has the opportunity to overturn a serious miscarriage of justice committed through the racist and illegal act of preventing black people from serving on juries.

“I am very excited for Curtis and for what I hope this will mean for both his case and for eliminating racial discrimination in jury selection,” Alison Steiner, one of Flowers’ attorneys, told AMP Reports. “I like to think that the United States Supreme Court is still very interested in making sure that the justice system operates fairly and is not, in my view, poisoned by racial discrimination. So this affects more than just Curtis.”

At the end of the day, though, Curtis Flowers is still in jail, just as he’s been for the last two decades.

Take Action

Care2 petition is asking that DA Doug Evans be recalled. Sign this petition if you think Doug Evans is not fit to be District Attorney.

If you want to make a difference on an issue you find deeply troubling, you too can create a Care2 petition, and use this handy guide to get started. You’ll find Care2‘s vibrant community of activists ready to step up and help you.

 

Photo Credit: Getty Images

31 comments

Peggy B
Peggy B4 days ago

TYFS

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Chad A
Chad Anderson4 days ago

Thank you.

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Greta L
Greta L6 days ago

Thanks

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danii p
danii p8 days ago

Thank you

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danii p
danii p8 days ago

Thank you

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danii p
danii p8 days ago

Thank you

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Carole R
Carole R9 days ago

Sadly noted.

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Carol C
Carol C9 days ago

Although I don't have much faith in the Supreme Court at this point, still hope that justice will prevail over racism. Petition previously signed.

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Toni W
Toni W9 days ago

TYFS

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Toni W
Toni W9 days ago

TYFS

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