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Supreme Court sides with black death row inmate in jury discrimination case

MISSISSIPPI — The Supreme Court held on Friday that a Mississippi death row inmate, Curtis Flowers, could get a new trial.

The court held that the prosecutor who tried him six times for murder engaged in unconstitutional racial discrimination when striking African-American jurors from the panel.

The decision was 7-2, and was delivered by Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

“The State’s relentless, determined effort to rid the jury of black individuals strongly suggests that the state wanted to try Flowers before a jury with as few black jurors as possible, and ideally before an all-white jury.”

Flowers, who is African-American, was tried five times for the 1996 murder of four people inside a furniture store in Winona, Mississippi. But it was only in 2010, after his sixth trial, that a conviction stuck and Flowers was sentenced to death.

Flowers had wanted his conviction overturned. His lawyers asked the Supreme Court to hold that the prosecutor, Doug Evans, who brought each case, broke the law by engaging in race discrimination during jury selection.

The case even prompted Justice Clarence Thomas, who rarely speaks during oral arguments, to ask a rare question.

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