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Supreme Court Weighs In on Unprecedented Murder Case

Justices toss latest conviction of Curtis Flowers, who's already had 6 murder trials for same crime
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 21, 2019 11:25 AM CDT
This 2017 photo provided by Mississippi Department of Corrections shows Curtis Flowers.   (Mississippi Department of Corrections via AP)

(Newser) – A white district attorney in Mississippi has tried black defendant Curtis Flowers no fewer than six times for the murder of four people in a furniture store in 1996. That amounts to a "prosecutorial pursuit that may be without parallel," per the Washington Post. Now, thanks to a Supreme Court ruling on Friday, DA Doug Evans has to decide whether to try Flowers a seventh time. The court overturned the most recent conviction, from 2010, and left it up to Mississippi to decide what happens next, reports the Jackson Clarion Ledger. The big issue: The justices found that Evans improperly removed black people from juries. Details:

  • The decision: The court ruled 7-2 in favor of Flowers, who has spent 22 years on Mississippi's death row. "The numbers speak loudly," wrote Justice Brett Kavanaugh in the majority opinion, per NPR. "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." Overall, the numbers were 41 of 42, he noted. Read the full opinion here.
  • The dissent: Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch dissented. "The majority's opinion is so manifestly incorrect that I must proceed to the merits," Thomas wrote. "Flowers presented no evidence whatsoever of purposeful race discrimination by the State." He added this: "If the Court's opinion today has a redeeming quality, it is this: The State is perfectly free to convict Curtis Flowers again."

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