Author Topic: Flowers v. Mississippi  (Read 631 times)

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Online Elderberry

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Flowers v. Mississippi
« on: June 21, 2019, 02:16:27 pm »
SCOTUSblog 6/21/2019

https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/18pdf/18-457_2034.pdf

CURTIS GIOVANNI FLOWERS, PETITIONER
v. MISSISSIPPI

ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE SUPREME COURT OF MISSISSIPPI
[June 21, 2019]

JUSTICE ALITO, concurring.

As the Court takes pains to note, this is a highly un- usual case. Indeed, it is likely one of a kind. In 1996, four defenseless victims, three white and one black, were slaughtered in a furniture store in a small town in Montgomery County, Mississippi, a jurisdiction with fewer than11,000 inhabitants. One of the victims was the owner of the store, which was widely frequented by residents of the community. The person prosecuted for this crime, petitioner Curtis Flowers, an African-American, comes from a local family whose members make up a gospel group and have many community ties.
By the time jury selection began in the case now before us, petitioner had already been tried five times for committing that heinous and inflammatory crime. Three times, petitioner was convicted and sentenced to death, but all three convictions were reversed by the State Supreme Court. Twice, the jurors could not reach a unanimous verdict. In all of the five prior trials, the State wasrepresented by the same prosecutor, and as the Court recounts, many of those trials were marred by racial discrimination in the selection of jurors and prosecutorialmisconduct. Nevertheless, the prosecution at the sixthtrial was led by the same prosecutor, and the case was tried in Montgomery County where, it appears, a high percentage of the potential jurors have significant connections to either petitioner, one or more of the victims, or both.

These connections and the community’s familiarity with the case were bound to complicate a trial judge’s task intrying to determine whether the prosecutor’s assertedreason for striking a potential juror was a pretext for racial discrimination, and that is just what occurred. Petitioner argues that the prosecution improperly struck five black jurors, but for each of the five, the prosecutor gave one or more reasons that were not only facially legitimate but were of a nature that would be of concern to a great many attorneys. If another prosecutor in another case in a larger jurisdiction gave any of these reasons forexercising a peremptory challenge and the trial judgecredited that explanation, an appellate court would probably have little difficulty affirming that finding. And that result, in all likelihood, would not change based on factorsthat are exceedingly difficult to assess, such as the number of voir dire questions the prosecutor asked different members of the venire.

But this is not an ordinary case, and the jury selectionprocess cannot be analyzed as if it were. In light of all that had gone before, it was risky for the case to be tried once again by the same prosecutor in Montgomery County.Were it not for the unique combinations of circumstancespresent here, I would have no trouble affirming the decision of the Supreme Court of Mississippi, which conscientiously applied the legal standards applicable in less unusual cases. But viewing the totality of the circumstancespresent here, I agree with the Court that petitioner’scapital conviction cannot stand.

Offline txradioguy

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Re: Flowers v. Mississippi
« Reply #1 on: June 24, 2019, 11:30:52 pm »
SCOTUS dropped the ball on this one.  Disappointing to see Alito on the wrong side of this case.  Once again Kavanaugh shows why many Conservatives were worried about his appointment to the highest court in the land.
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