Doug Evans has been the District Attorney for the Fifth Circuit Court in Mississippi since 1992
A ‘racist’ Mississippi prosecutor who went after the same man six times for a crime has been sued for systematically blocking black people from juries.
Doug Evans has been the District Attorney for the Fifth Circuit Court since 1992 and he has only ever been challenged for his seat once.
He made headlines earlier this year after the Supreme Court overturned the murder conviction of a black man who he took to trial six different times.
On Monday, he was sued by Antonio Riley, Sharon Young, Charles Hampton and Ruth Robbin who say he unfairly dismissed them as jurors purely because of their race.
They filed their lawsuit along with the The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
Together, they accuse Evans – who is standing for re-election – of a long history of racial discrimination.
The lawsuit alleges that in the 1990s, Evans gave a key note address at a white supremacist organization known as The Council of Conservative Citizens.
The lawsuit claims that of 225 trials it examined, 71 percent of the 1,275 strikes used by Evans’ office were against black jurors.
The complainants say it was particularly obvious in cases where they was a black defendant.
‘The office’s policy of racial discrimination in the exercise of peremptory challenges holds true for criminal trials that took place in all seven counties in the Fifth Circuit Court District.
‘It holds true for both minor and more serious crimes.
Evans has been mostly unchallenged since 1992. In the lawsuit, four black people who he dismissed as jurors say he will continue to discriminate against African Americans unless a court intervenes
‘And although Evans’ office disparately struck Black jurors across the board, when the defendant was Black, Evans’ office’s strike rate against Blacks jurors is even more pronounced—it more than doubled as compared to trials with white defendants,’ it reads.
Nowhere is his office’s discrimination more obvious, the lawsuit claims, than in the case of Curtis Flowers.
Flowers was convicted in 2010 at his sixth trial for the shooting deaths of four people in a furniture store in 1996.
He was convicted in the first three trials but they were all reversed because of prosecutor misconduct, and Evans was the prosecutor in each case.
The last two before his sixth ended in hung juries.
On his sixth trial, Evans dismissed 41 out of 42 potential black jurors.
In his Supreme Court ruling overturning the conviction, Brett Kavanaugh wrote earlier this year: ‘The numbers speak loudly. Over the course of the first four trials, there were 36 black prospective jurors against whom the State could have exercised a peremptory strike.
Evans is shown in one of the six trials he brought against Curtis Flowers for a 1996 quadruple homicide. Five of the trials ended in a mistrial because of prosecutor misconduct
‘The State tried to strike all 36.’
In their lawsuit filed on Monday, the complainants say that unless the federal court in Mississippi intervenes, he will continue to discriminate against black jurors.
Curtis Flowers, 49, had his quadruple murder conviction vacated by the Supreme Court but he may be tried by Evans a seventh time
Evans did not immediately respond to the lawsuit.
Flowers’ having his conviction vacated was not unanimous. At least one Supreme Court Justice opposed it, saying the evidence proved he was clearly guilty.
Some knew Flowers’ family and others had personal disputes with the furniture store where the murders took place, including with the owner he was killed.
‘Today’s decision distorts the record of this case, eviscerates our standard of review, and vacates four murder convictions because the State struck a juror who would have been stricken by any competent attorney. I dissent,’ he said.
Neil Gorsuch agreed with him.
The decision does not stop the state from putting Flowers on trial for a seventh time which Thomas said was its ‘only redeeming quality’.
Flowers has been in custody since 1996.
In September, he left prison and was taken back to county jail to await a possible seventh trial.