Monday, September 07, 2020

Curtis Flowers won't be retried

 It would have been his 7th -- SEVENTH! -- trial.  The AP covers the decision here:

A Mississippi man freed last year after 22 years in prison will not be tried a seventh time in a quadruple murder case, a judge ruled Friday after prosecutors told him they no longer had any credible witnesses.

Curtis Flowers was convicted multiple times in a bloody slaying and robbery at a small-town furniture store in 1996. The U.S. Supreme Court threw out the most recent conviction in June 2019, citing racial bias in jury selection.

“Today, I am finally free from the injustice that left me locked in a box for nearly twenty three years,” Flowers said in a statement released by his lawyer. “I’ve been asked if I ever thought this day would come. I have been blessed with a family that never gave up on me and with them by my side, I knew it would.”

Montgomery County Circuit Judge Joseph Loper signed the order Friday after the state attorney general’s office, which had taken over the case, admitted the evidence was too weak to proceed with another trial.

“As the evidence stands today, there is no key prosecution witness ... who is alive and available and has not had multiple, conflicting statements in the record,” Assistant Attorney General Mary Helen Wall wrote in a filing presented to Loper on Friday.

 Vangela Wade, one of Flowers' current lawyers, wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post.  It starts this way:

Nearly 23 years. More than 8,000 days. That’s how long Curtis Flowers — a Black man who was tried an astonishing six times for the same crime — was locked away in a cramped jail cell with little ability to see his family. Until Friday, when Mississippi’s attorney general decided to drop the charges, Flowers was waiting to find out whether he would be subjected to yet another trial.

My organization, the Mississippi Center for Justice, has been defending Flowers since summer 2019, working with the team of lawyers that has represented him for many years. We are thrilled that he will finally go free. The accusations against Flowers were never grounded in facts, but rather fueled by improper conduct by Montgomery County District Attorney Doug Evans — the prosecutor in each of Flowers’s six trials.

Unfortunately, the Flowers case offers just a tiny snapshot of prosecutorial misconduct. Such misconduct — which can include introducing false evidence, using dubious informants, withholding evidence that could exonerate the defendant or discriminating in jury selection — puts countless innocent people behind bars. As a former prosecutor — notably, the only Black staff member in the office — I witnessed firsthand the disproportionate number of African Americans entangled within the criminal justice system.

Prosecutors wield enormous control over the criminal justice system. They determine which charges to pursue — if any — and make recommendations on bail, pretrial incarceration and sentencing, which are often accepted by judges. In each of these instances, prosecutors have the potential to abuse civil rights — with few, if any, consequences.

One analysis by the Innocence Project of 660 cases in which courts confirmed prosecutorial misconduct revealed that the prosecutor was ultimately disciplined in only one. Another report of 707 cases of prosecutorial misconduct in California found that just six prosecutors were disciplined.


Miguel M. de la O said...

If you're looking for a great podcast, and an example of outstanding investigative journalism, listen to In the Dark, Season 2. They broke open the Curtis Flowers case.

Anonymous said...

I don't know the details of this case. But if any case deserves to be tried 6 times, a quadruple murder would qualify. It's horrible this guy was in prison so long when the conviction was the result of legal error. It's also a tragedy there will be no justice for the families of those who were killed.

Anonymous said...

Maybe if they found the real killer there'd be justice

Anonymous said...

You're up Mr. Sherwin.

Anonymous said...