Securing Justice for Curtis Flowers

How many times can a man, innocent, be tried for the same crime?

For Curtis Flowers, a black man who grew up in Winona, MS, it has been six.

In Mississippi, as we know, the past is never dead. It’s not even past.

Curtis Flowers was accused of killing four people in 1996. For more than two decades, he faced injustice after injustice.

Of the six trials, Flowers was found guilty four times. But each of those verdicts was overturned, largely due to pervasive racism throughout the trial process. The other two trials resulted in hung juries. The last guilty verdict, which came in the 6th trial, was overturned by the United States Supreme Court in June of 2019.

At that point the Mississippi Center for Justice began defending Flowers, and the case was sent back to the trial court in Mississippi for a potential seventh trial.

The director of our impact litigation project, Rob McDuff, led the charge. We immediately filed two motions – one to dismiss the charges and one for bail. The former motion demanded that Flowers not be “forced to run the same gauntlet seven times on account of the prosecutor’s chronic inability to succeed within the rules.”

Soon thereafter, we filed a motion to recuse District Attorney Doug Evans, the prosecutor in the six trials against Flowers.

On December 16, 2019, at a hearing on Flowers’ motion to bail, we asked the judge to release him in light of the fact that he had no criminal record prior to his arrest, his spotless prison record over the 23 years he was wrongfully imprisoned, and the emerging evidence of his innocence in this case. At the conclusion of the hearing, the judge granted bail and Flowers was released for the first time in 23 years.

Approximately three weeks later, District Attorney Evans asked to be removed from the case. It is now in the hands of the Mississippi Attorney General’s office. The Attorney General is considering our request that the charged be dismissed once and for all.