Today, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) filed an amicus brief condemning the discriminatory removal of African American jurors by the District Attorney in Mississippi’s 5th Judicial District.
The LDF brief details the long history of racial discrimination in Mississippi and its 5th Judicial District—from the denial of African Americans’ right to vote and to attend integrated schools, and to the denial of jury-service rights today.
The brief catalogues the ways that District Attorney Doug Evans has wrongfully abused his power in a disputed death penalty case against Curtis Flowers, an African American man tried six times for the killing of four people in 1996. Throughout Mr. Flowers’ six trials, District Attorney Evans has tried to remove almost every African American juror presented for jury service.
“Since the early days of Jim Crow, Mississippi’s attempts to make African Americans second-class citizens have included attacks on their jury-service rights. It is unacceptable that African American jurors today continue to be denied their right to serve,” said LDF Senior Counsel Chris Kemmitt. “Curtis Flowers never had a chance at a fair trial because of District Attorney Evans’ discriminatory efforts to select a mostly white jury. The Supreme Court must reaffirm that discriminatory jury selection cannot be tolerated and allow Mr. Flowers a new trial with a fairly selected jury.”
The LDF brief sheds lights on the decades-long efforts by District Attorney Evans and his office to exclude African Americans from jury service in the Fifth Judicial District. According to an American Public Media Reports (APM Reports) analysis, Mr. Evans’ office struck African American jurors 4.4 times more frequently than white jurors over the course of his tenure.
Read the amicus brief here.
Read LDF Senior Counsel and Director of Professional Development Chris Kemmitt’s op-ed on the case here.
Founded in 1940, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is the nation’s first civil and human rights law organization and has been completely separate from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1957—although LDF was originally founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights. LDF’s Thurgood Marshall Institute is a multi-disciplinary and collaborative hub within LDF that launches targeted campaigns and undertakes innovative research to shape the civil rights narrative. In media attributions, please refer to us as the NAACP Legal Defense Fund or LDF.