A recently exonerated man who spent 23 years in prison has filed a complaint against a longtime Mississippi district attorney alleging various violations of the U.S. and Mississippi state constitutions. The plaintiff was tried six times for the 1996 murders of four people. The defendant prosecuted all six trials, none of which resulted in a legally valid conviction. Four of those murder trials resulted in convictions and death sentences but all convictions were vacated due to prosecutorial misconduct. One of the opinions reversing one of those convictions was written by now Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh who wrote that “The state’s relentless, determined effort to rid the jury of black individuals strongly suggests that the state wanted to try Flowers before a jury with as few black jurors as possible, and ideally before an all-white jury.”
The background story is very compelling but the case will be an uphill battle. I expect that the prosecutor will argue qualified immunity and will cite Supreme Court precedent which makes it very difficult if not almost impossible for exonerated plaintiffs to win claims against former prosecutors. For this reason, cases like this often settle out of court, which provides some level of compensation.
For more information on the case go to Law&Crime, NPR, and Courthouse News Service.
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