Justice Clarence Thomas asks first question in THREE YEARS over 'peremptory challenges'

People line up to enter the Supreme Court in Washington Wednesday

People line up to enter the Supreme Court in Washington Wednesday

You can not strike them, however, due to their race.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

Thomas is famous for remaining silent during oral arguments, and last asked a question three years ago.

Three convictions were tossed out, including one when the prosecutor improperly excluded African-Americans from the jury.

Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood, defending Flowers' convictions, said the prosecutor acted appropriately in striking the five prospective jurors for reasons having nothing to do with race.

"And what was the race of the jurors struck there?"

The justices were hearing a case on whether a white MS prosecutor excluded black jurors in several trials against Curtis Flowers, a black man convicted of murdering four people.

The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in the case Wednesday. But policing the application of those rules in the lower courts has proved problematic. He's been tried six times for quadruple murder, but has maintained his innocence throughout. He has been on death row for 22 years.

According to The Washington Post, two of Flowers' trials were hung, and convictions in three others were overturned because of misconduct by Evans.

Top US court to study case of black man tried six times for same crime

Those findings will be presented when the US Supreme Court deliberates on the case.

Comparing another white juror with an African-American who was not selected, Justice Stephen Breyer said little appeared to distinguish the two women, apart from race.

"The history of this case, prior to this trial, is very troubling", said Justice Samuel Alito, who often sides with prosecutors in criminal cases. It deadlocked, and the judge declared a mistrial.

Justice Samuel Alito interrupted to ask, couldn't the attorney general of MS have said, "Enough already, we're going to send one of our own people to try this case, preferably in a different county"?

His lawyers accused long-serving Montgomery County District Attorney Doug Evans of engaging in a pattern of removing black jurors that indicated an unlawful discriminatory motive.

"We can't take the history out of the case", Justice Brett Kavanaugh said. In 2013, he was part of the majority when the court struck down a key section of the Voting Rights Act, passed in 1965 to protect black voters in Southern states from ongoing discrimination.

The sentiment was shared by Justice Elena Kagan who felt that the questions asked of black jurors by the prosecutory were "staggering" compared to white jurors. But in 2016, the Supreme Court remanded the case back to lower courts for review because of allegations of racial bias in jury selection.

And, he asked, "against that backdrop of a lot of decades of all-white juries convicting black defendants. can you say confidently, as you sit here today. that you have confidence in how all this transpired in this case?"

Some prosecutors, including in southern states like MS, have been accused over the decades of trying to ensure predominately white juries for trials of black defendants.

Latest News