Mississippi Prosecutor Doug Evans tried really hard to pin the murders of four people on a Black man named Curtis Flowers in Mississippi in 1996. The case was blatantly racist and even Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh could see it.
“In 1996, Curtis Flowers allegedly murdered four people in Winona, Miss. Flowers is Black. He has been tried six separate times before a jury for murder. The same lead prosecutor represented the State in all six trials,” Kavanaugh wrote in his opinion for the Court.
Flowers was convicted in the first three trials and sentenced to death. But his trials kept being overturned by the Mississippi Supreme Court because of Evans’ obvious misconduct. Evans was purposefully keeping Black people off of the jury.
In Flowers’ last trial, he was convicted, but the Justices found that Evans had again discriminated against Black people in jury selection — so they overturned his conviction.
Only two Justices didn’t see the obvious signs of racism in the trials – Justice Neil Gorsuch (typical) and perhaps slightly more surprising, Justice Clarence Thomas.
It’s hard to imagine how because the racism is stark. In the six trials, Evans struck 41 out of 42 African-American prospective jurors. In the most recent trial, Evans struck five out of six Black prospective jurors. Evans also questioned Black potential jurors much more closely than he questioned whites.
But Thomas wrote that he was outraged Flowers would be granted relief. Flowers has spent more than two decades wasting away in solitary confinement for murders he didn’t commit. Thomas also managed to find a way to blame the media.
“Perhaps the Court granted certiorari because the case has received a fair amount of media attention,” he wrote, adding that “the media often seeks to titillate rather than to educate and inform.”