Supreme Court Rules for Black Death Row Inmate Over Prosecutor’s Racial Bias

The Supreme Court reversed the conviction of death row inmate Curtis Flowers on Friday, June 21 because of the state prosecutor’s exclusion of black individuals from the jury.

What We Know:

  • Flowers was tried six separate times for the murder of four white employees of a Mississippi furniture store in 1996. He has spent 22 years in prison and was sentenced to be on death row.
  • Each of his trials, led by the District Attorney Doug Evans, resulted in the conviction of Flowers and a death sentence, but each conviction was later reversed by the Supreme Court; The most recent conviction reversed is from 2010.
  • The Supreme Court reversed all of the decisions based on prosecutorial misconduct because the prosecutor had excluded black jurors from the trials. The prosecutors were in violation of the Batson V. Kentucky Supreme Court ruling of 1986 that does not allow prosecutors to use a peremptory challenge to exclude jurors based on race.
  • The State used peremptory challenges to eliminate 41 of 42 black prospective jurors from all six trials combined. Prosecutors asked the prospective black jurors in Flowers’ fifth trial 145 questions in the selection process, compared to 12 questions asked to the chosen white jurors. Additionally, they asked follow-up questions and investigated the black prospective jurors in a way they did not investigate their white counterparts.
  • Flowers will not receive his official adjudication until Mississippi gives him a fair trial.
  • Evans is running unopposed for reelection as the district attorney of Mississippi’s Fifth Circuit Court District, meaning he will prosecute Flowers once again in his seventh trial.

Flowers’ case exposes intense judicial racial bias on the part of the state prosecutor and Mississippi courts, which will hopefully be rectified in the seventh trial.