WASHINGTON D.C. (By Colton Salaz)—The Supreme Court of the United States threw out the most recent murder conviction of a Mississippi man, who has been tried for a quadruple murder a total of six times, by the same prosector. The Supreme Court called this case "unprecedented."
The high court ruled 7-2 in favor of the defendant, Curtis Flowers, who sued the state of Mississippi for violating the U.S. Constitution in his most recent murder trial. Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote the court’s majority opinion. Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch dissented.
Flowers lawyers argued that the prosecutor in the case, Doug Evans, violated federal law by preventing African-Americans from sitting on the jury of Curtis Flowers.
In Flowers’ sixth trial, the jury was made up of 11 whites and one African-American. District Attorney Doug Evans struck five black prospective jurors.
In the earlier trials, three convictions were tossed out, including one when the prosecutor improperly excluded African-Americans from the jury. In the second trial, the judge chided Evans for striking a juror based on race.
Two other trials ended when jurors couldn’t reach unanimous verdicts.
“The numbers speak loudly,” Justice Kavanaugh said in a summary of his opinion that he read in the courtroom, noting that Evans had removed 41 of the 42 prospective black jurors over the six trials. “We cannot ignore that history.”
In dissent, Justice Clarence Thomas called Kavanaugh’s opinion “manifestly incorrect” and wrote that Flowers presented "no evidence whatsoever of purposeful race discrimination.”
In the course of selecting a jury, lawyers can excuse a juror merely because of a suspicion that a particular person would vote against their client. Those are called peremptory strikes, and they have been the focus of the complaints about discrimination.
Flowers has been in jail for more than 22 years. He is currently awaiting the 7th trial for the same quadruple murder.