The scene on Friday came three months to the day after Thomas spoke during oral arguments (only his second time ever since joining the bench in 1991) about Flowers' case, which includes him being tried six times for the 1996 murders of four people inside a furniture store.
The court's newest justice noted that Montgomery County District Attorney Doug Evans had removed 41 of 42 prospective black jurors over Flowers' six trials. Two trials - the one ones with better than one black juror - resulted in hung juries.
But the state said Evans had offered race-neutral reasons in the most recent trial, in 2010, when the prosecutor struck five of six black potential jurors. And while the 7-2 decision led by Justice Brett Kavanaugh seemed pretty decisive, Justice Clarence Thomas, the court's lone Black judge, made sure it was known that he vehemently disagreed with the ruling surrounding Curtis Flowers' case. And the MS high court in the 2010 case deferred to a judge's finding that Evans had nondiscriminatory reasons for striking the black jurors - because they had ties to Flowers or had been sued by Tardy Furniture, for instance.
In his dissent, Justice Thomas called the majority opinion "manifestly incorrect", saying it would prolong the "nightmare" of the victims' families. He added this: "If the Court's opinion today has a redeeming quality, it is this: The State is perfectly free to convict Curtis Flowers again".
The justices weighed Evans' history of striking African-American jurors.
Thomas spent much of the important section of his conception questioning why his colleagues took the case within the important rep 22 situation - to illustrate, citing the "dazzling quantity of media attention" surrounding the case. He told reporters for American Public Media's "In the Dark" podcast that he hadn't decided whether to try Flowers again, but remained confident of his guilt. Thomas wrote the dissenting conception, arguing that the court docket cases in Plant life' case "supplied no evidence whatsoever of purposeful bustle discrimination", and that Wright "would occupy been troubled by any competent legal skilled". "That changed into as soon as in opposition to a backdrop of somewhat about a decades of all-white juries convicting black defendants".
But in a 1986 case, Batson v. Kentucky, the Supreme Court said the challenges could not be used to strike a potential juror because of his or her race. "Reporters spent a year in MS investigating the case and uncovered compelling evidence of Flowers' innocence that helped bring the case to national prominence", APM Reports' Parker Yesko and Dave Mann note. Flowers was found guilty in the other three, but appeals courts lifted those convictions because of misconduct on Evans's part.
In the course of selecting a jury, lawyers can excuse a juror merely because of a suspicion that a particular person would vote against their client. Evans could not immediately be reached for comment. They said a seventh trial "would be unprecedented, and completely unwarranted given both the flimsiness of the evidence against him and the long trail of misconduct that has kept him wrongfully incarcerated all these years".
TOTENBERG: Well, Justice Thomas has always maintained that discrimination in jury selection is just not something the court should be involved in determining and that it's not for the defense to raise this - that it's only the jurors who can object to being discriminated against. Kavanaugh joined liberal justices in a ruling that delayed the execution of a cop killer amid claims that religious freedom would be violated if the death-row inmate's Buddhist spiritual adviser wasn't present during his final moments.
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