(This post is part of a series concerning Curtis Flowers, an innocent man convicted of a horrific crime that has divided a small Mississippi town. Information on the Flowers case can be found here.)
Lacey McLaughlin of the Jackson Free Press addresses the elephant in the Montgomery County Courtroom. The article pasted below gets at the real reason there is only one black juror on the jury in Curtis Flowers’ sixth trial.
Majority White Jury in Flowers Trial
by Lacey McLaughlin
June 10, 2010
The fate of Curtis Flowers, a man on trial for the sixth time, is now in the hands of a jury consisting of 11 whites and one African American in Montgomery County where the racial make up is 54 percent white and 44 percent African American.
Flowers, charged with capital murder for the 1996 shooting of four people at Tardy’s Furniture Store in Winona, Miss., is the first person in recent U.S. history to be tried six times for the same crime.
The Mississippi State Supreme Court overturned the first two trials, in which Flowers was found guilty, for procedural misconduct. The Supreme Court also overturned the third trial, citing Montgomery County District Attorney Doug Evans for intentionally excluding black jurors from jury selection. The third and fourth trials both ended in hung juries. If found guilty, Flowers could face the death penalty.
Attorney Rob McDuff said the majority-white jury could be the outcome of the trial’s tense racial history. McDuff represented James Bibbs, who Montgomery County Circuit Judge Joseph Loper and District Attorney Doug Evans charged with perjury during the fifth trial in 2008. Bibbs, an African American, was the only juror in favor of acquitting Flowers.
“Some other jurors claimed (Bibbs) had acted improperly and Loper jumped to conclusions and accused Mr. Bibbs in open court of having perjured himself when he answered questions during the jury selection process,” McDuff said.
McDufff helped get Loper and Evans recused from the case.
“It was a completely bogus charge. I believe Bibbs was indicted to send a message to future jurors who vote for acquittal,” he said, adding: “I can’t help but believe that it had an impact. It’s really unfortunate that there is only one African American on that jury in a crime where the town is so divided along racial lines.”
Dr. Alan Bean, executive director of Friends of Justice, a nonprofit organization that conducts awareness campaigns promoting due process of law, has put together a group of observers to watch the trial. Bean said he watched as the jury pool of African Americans shrank during the three-day selection process.
“White people by-and-large were trying to do everything they could do get on, and black people were trying to everything they could to get off,” Bean said. “A lot of people just don’t want to go through what Bibbs went through.”
During the jury selection process, Bean said that when Evans asked if there was anyone who couldn’t sit in judgment of another human being, 11 people raised their hands–nine African Americans and two whites.
Earlier this month, The Equal Justice Initiative, an Alabama-based nonprofit organization, released a report, “Illegal Racial Discrimination in Jury Selection: A Continuing Legacy.” The report finds that jury discrimination have occurred in eight Southern states– Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina and Tennessee despite the United States Supreme Court’s 1986 decision in Batson v. Kentucky, limiting racially discriminating use of peremptory strikes in jury selection by requiring lawyers to provide nonracial reasons for those strikes.
Many courts and judges “refusal to apply the decision retroactively has meant that scores of death row prisoners have been executed after convictions and death sentences by all-white juries, which were organized by excluding people of color on the basis of race,” the report states.
Witness testimonies for the Flowers case began today. The trial will continue on Saturday and through next week.
7 thoughts on “Bibbs fallout explains lack of black representation on Flowers’ jury”
This is ridiculous! There is no racial issue here in Winona. Six hundred people were pooled for jury duty and 14 chosen, both lawyers had opportunity to interview six hundred people! So why were only 2 african americans chosen? Sounds like they want it that way. And please don’t forget an african american man was killed also. Don’t you think his family wants justice too? If Curtis Flowers didn’t do it, who did? And were there toxicology screens done on Flowers after being arrested to test for drugs? And why would his clothes and shoes he was wearing that day be missing? If he was innocent he should be able to produce those items to prove his innocence, right? What about the gun he stole from his own uncle? We are not a racist community. We have several prominent african americans in our community that are respected and admired including teachers, police officers, and judges. Curtis Flowers is just taking advantage of the system. Ask the other inmates how nice a guy he is.
Curtis says he never had a pair of Filas so there are no shoes to produce. As for clothes, the witnesses can’t agree about what he was wearing. If you are local, I suggest you head down to the courtroom tomorrow.
Hmm, a judge accused a juror of perjury in Mississippi. In 2003, a police detective in Danville, Virginia tampered with a defense witness during a rape trial. The accuser repeatedly committed perjury and the judge (no jury, no press) gave the defendant 20 years disregarding the testimony of defense witnesses that impeached the accuser, who impeached herself. Police intimidation and mail tampering and misconduct all with this one case but nothing has been done about it because racist officials can still do whatever they want to black citizens in the south. There is still no equality and no justice for black Americans. Generation after generation, southern white officials are still racist. It never stops and federal officials still do nothing to help black citizens. America has not changed.
IF SOMEONE WORE THAT MANY DIFFERENT ATTIRES ON A HOT SUMMER DAY. HE HAD TO HAVE THEM ALONG THE STREETS OF WINONA TO CHANGE THAT MUCH. AND HE HAD TO BE A RUNNING SOUL. I WONDER HOW MANY OF US CAN REMEMBER WHAT WE WORE LAST WEEK, NOT AS LONG AS 7MOS. AGO. UNLESS YOU WRITE THEM DOWN EVERYDAY ON A CALENDER. I DO KNOW THAT WHEN MONEY IS INVOLVED PEOPLE JUMP. WHO GOT THE 30.000? JUST REMEMBER JUDAS SOLD JESUS OUT FOR 30 PIECES OF SILVER SO WHY DO WE THINK IT IS ANY BETTER IN THIS DAY AND TIME. THERE IS MANY JUDAS IN THE WORLD TODAY AND THEY WILL SELL THEIR OWN MOTHER OUT. HOW CAN YOU BELIEVE ANY OF THE LIES THAT BEEN TOLD ON STAND. I WOULD HATE TO HAVE ANY OF THESE TO BE MY WITNESS.
That’s what I’d say too if I were Curtis. Obviously there were some Fila shoes in the household. Connie Moore stated on the stand that they belonged to her sons. If my loved one were accused of a terrible crime like this, I think I would have been able to locate the shoes and shown them to the police and cleared his name. Unless of course the shoes were Curtis’ and had been disposed of.
Bibbs was not only accused of perjury,
he was guilty of perjury. I talked to the Africian American in the attorney General’s office who led the committee who decided not to prosecute Bibbs, and he told me Bibbs was definately guilty of juror misconduct, but they didn’t think they could prove it was perjury! I smell a RAT! If this had been a white man they would have put him under the jail!! There were two other prominent Africian American’s on the jury with Bibbs and they voted guilty! Let’s see, you think they might have voted guilty because they didn’t like other African Americans? I’m confused!
I suspect that your contact had it about right. Jurors aren’t supposed to make reference to personal knowledge from outside the courtroom. When Bibbs said he had been behind Tardys that day and hadn’t seen anyone canvassing he broke that rule. On the other hand, it is a rule that is broken in virtually every jury deliberation by somebody. For it to be perjury, the state would have had to prove that when Bibbs said he had no personal knowledge of the case apart from what he learned from the usual media sources he was being intentionally misleading. There was no way for Bibbs to know that what he did not see on the day of the trial could be construed as personal knowledge about the case. No one asked him, or anyone else, if they were near the scene of the crime on the day in question or, if they were, if that experience altered their perception of the case. Even if that question had been asked, Bibbs would have honestly said his experience had no bearing on his perception of the case. Only after there was testimony that the PD had been canvassing all around Tardys did Bibbs experience on the day of the murder have any relevance. There was no way for him to anticipate that testimony. Therefore, he did not perjure himself. I personally question any juror who is close to persons on either side of this case who says they can put their feelings aside and just listen to the evidence. But that doesn’t constitute perjury either, because there is no way of knowing, in any particular case, if the person who makes the claim is lying. I don’t think it necessarily constitutes a lie even if, from the perspective of most reasonable people, the claim that an intimate of people close to the case can put their personal feelings aside is unrealistic. They may believe it to be true. That’s why, in my opinion, a judge should strike people in that position for cause. I have never stated an opinion on the change of venue issue because it wasn’t my call. Now that the trial is over, however, we’ll just have to see what happens on appeal. If there is another trial it can’t happen in Winona. Even if you could pick a jury the community has been through far too much already.
Comments are closed.