Recently, in Flowers v. Mississippi, 139 S. Ct. 2228 (2019), the U.S. Supreme Court again reversed and returned the case to the Mississippi courts where the prosecutions repeated, racially motivated misconduct during the defendants six trials for the same murders precluded a creditable Batson finding that the prosecutors challenge of an African-American prospective juror was based on race-neutral factors.
Background of the case
State authorities prosecuted Flowers six times for an offense in which a furniture store owner and three employees were shot to death. The state supreme court reversed Flowers first and second convictions due to numerous instances of prosecutorial misconduct. The state supreme court overturned Flowers third conviction on the grounds of discriminatory jury selection. The fourth and fifth trials ended in hung juries. A sixth jury convicted Flowers of murder and sentenced him to death. Flowers argued that the prosecutor in his sixth trial used peremptory challenges in a racially discriminatory manner. (Read full details at https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R46105.pdf)
What did the Supreme Court say?
Supreme Court: The U.S. Supreme Court again reversed and returned the case to the Mississippi courts. The Court, speaking through Justice Kavanaugh, declared [f]our critical facts, taken together, require reversal:
- First, in the six trials combined, the State employed its peremptory challenges to strike 41 of the 42 black prospective jurors that it could have struck.
- FSecond, in the most recent trial, the sixth trial, the State exercised peremptory strikes against five of the six black prospective jurors.
- FThird, at the sixth trial, in an apparent attempt to find pretextual reasons to strike black prospective jurors, the State engaged in dramatically disparate questioning of black and white prospective jurors.
- FFourth, the State then struck at least one black prospective juror, Carolyn Wright, who was similarly situated to white prospective jurors who were not struck by the State.
What is a peremptory challenge?
Peremptory challenges allow prosecutors to have prospective jurors dismissed without having to explain the reason for the challenge. A prosecutor may not exercise peremptory challenges in a racially discriminatory manner.
Batson v. Kentucky case and peremptory challenge
The Supreme Court in Batson v. Kentucky established a three-part test to assess claims of racially discriminatory use of peremptory challenges. First, the accused must make prima facie showing that the challenge was made for discriminatory reasons. Second, the prosecutor has the burden of proving a race-neutral justification for the challenge. Third, the trial court must determine whether the prosecutor has satisfied his burden.
We will protect your right to justice
For years Joel Silberman served as an Assistant Prosecutor with the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office. During this time Joel litigated hundreds of felony and juvenile cases and appeared before the Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division on multiple occasions. He knows what prosecutors can do and cannot do. If you are a victim of prosecutorial misconduct or a racially biased jury, he will appeal against the adverse verdict you have got to get you justice you deserve.
Call (201)-420-1913 today to schedule an appointment.