Supreme Court Strikes Down Conviction Of Mississippi Man On Death Row

Curtis Flowers

The Supreme Court has struck down the conviction of a Mississippi man who has been sitting on death row for 22 years. It took Mississippi six tries before they were able to convict Curtis Flowers for a quadruple homicide in 1996.

The first three convictions were overturned by Mississippi's Supreme Court due to prosecutorial misconduct by Doug Evans. In one instance, he misled the jury about evidence that did not exist. He was also accused of striking African Americans from the jury for no reason.

The jury deadlocked on Flowers' fourth and fifth trials, but Evans finally got a conviction on the sixth trial and Flowers was sentenced to death.

Flowers appealed the decision arguing that Evans' choice to strike dozens of African Americans from the jury was a form of racial discrimination.

In a 7-2 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed and ordered his conviction overturned.

"The numbers speak loudly. Over the course of the first four trials, there were 36 black prospective jurors against whom the State could have exercised a peremptory strike. The State tried to strike all 36," Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote in the majority opinion.

Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch dissented arguing that "Flowers presented no evidence whatsoever of purposeful race discrimination by the State in selecting the jury during the trial below."

"If the Court's opinion today has a redeeming quality, it is this: The State is perfectly free to convict Curtis Flowers again. Otherwise, the opinion distorts our legal standards, ignores the record, and reflects utter disrespect for the careful analysis of the Mississippi courts. Any competent prosecutor would have exercised the same strikes as the State did in this trial. And although the Court's opinion might boost its self-esteem, it also needlessly prolongs the suffering of four victims' families. I respectfully dissent," Justice Thomas wrote.

It is up to the state of Mississippi to decide if they want to take Flowers to court for a seventh time.

Photo: Mississippi Department of Corrections

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