Jackson, Miss. (AP) – A federal appeals court has ruled that the NAACP has no right to sue a Mississippi prosecutor accused of routinely rejecting black judges in criminal cases.
District Attorney Doug Evans has been in office since 1992 and his jury selection strategies have been scrutinized for years. He excluded black judges in a high-profile murder case The Supreme Court overturned Curtis Flowers’ indictment in June 2019, citing Justice Brett Kavanagh as “a relentless, resolute attempt to remove a black jury”.
The NATA county branch of the NAACP and four black voters filed a lawsuit against Evans months later, claiming that the prosecutor’s jury’s selection procedures violated the constitutional rights of prospective judges like themselves. They also requested a ban on Evans and his staff from preventing racially based jury strikes.
U.S. District Judge Debra Brown accepted the lawsuit against Evans, but dismissed their case in September 2020, saying it was inappropriate for an injection federal court to conduct an “ongoing audit” in the current and future state court. Proceedings. She also said those who suspect the prosecutor on racial-based jury exemptions can challenge it in state courts.
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The 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed its decision Rule Thursday. A three-judge panel ruled 2-1 that they did not present a “real and immediate threat” or “significant risk” because Evans could strike them out of jury service because of their race.
The appeals panel noted that only one of the plaintiffs had been summoned for potential jury duty and was dismissed on the grounds that she did not support the death penalty in the Flowers Trials – a reasonable reason to exclude one from the jury.
In dissent, Judge Greg Costa wrote that the percentage of Americans coming to jury duty was “extremely low,” but that the people who sued Evans indicated a “refreshed exit” by being willing to serve.
“And these Americans are more likely to want to perform their civil duty – and in fact more – likely to be called to jury duty in the near future – than in any other case we have allowed prospective jurors to continue,” Costa wrote.
The Associated Press sent Evans a phone message Friday asking for his response at his office in Granada, Mississippi. Evans, who hails from seven counties in northern Mississippi, was one of six candidates running in a fair election for state circuit judge in November.
Flowers has been tried six times in 1996 in connection with the shooting deaths of four people at a furniture store in Vinona, four counts and two counts. He always maintained his innocence. Flowers was jailed for six months after the Supreme Court overturned his final sentence because he was still on trial and he was released in December 2019. After a judge sets the bond.
Mississippi has dropped charges against Flowers In September 2020, months after Evans’ case was transferred to the state Attorney General’s office.
Flowers came after a Supreme Court ruling that led to freedom American Public Media “In the Dark” The case is under investigation. In 2017 and 2018, the podcast recorded that Flowers admitted to Odell Holmon, a prison house informer. It also provided an analysis that would find a long history of racial bias in jury selection by Evans.
Flowers filed his own lawsuit In September 2021, Evans and three other investigators sought unspecified damages. The Flowers Suite is still pending. It said Evans and the investigators were guilty of misconduct, including forcing witnesses to sue Flowers.
In March 2021, a judge ordered Mississippi to pay $ 500,000 for false imprisonment – state law limits such payments to a maximum of $ 50,000 a year for 10 years.
Follow Emily Wagster Pettas on Twitter http://twitter.com/EWagsterPettus.