In 2010, District Attorney Doug Evans tried to convict Curtis Flowers of the same murder charges for the sixth—yes, the sixth—time. Before the trial began, Evans did the same thing he had done before each of Flowers’ previous trials: he used his peremptory challenges to remove as many Black jurors as possible. Evans managed to seat a jury with eleven white jurors and one Black juror, and the jury promptly convicted Flowers and sentenced him to death. Flowers appealed his conviction to the Mississippi Supreme Court, arguing that the Court should grant him a new trial because Evans had picked the jury in a discriminatory and unconstitutional manner.
When the Mississippi Supreme Court heard Flowers’ appeal, it had every reason to think that Evans struck the Black jurors because of their skin color. The facts of the case spoke for themselves: during Flowers’ trials, Evans removed 41 of 43 possible Black jurors and struck Black jurors 20 times more frequently than he struck white jurors.
Now the US Supreme Court will get a chance to weigh in. On March 20, 2019, the Court will hear oral arguments and have the opportunity to continue its long-standing commitment to the principle that racial prejudice has no place in jury selection—especially when the defendant’s life is on the line.
Read the full op-ed here.