The NAACP Legal Defense Fund filed a lawsuit against Mississippi District Attorney Doug Evans, accusing him of purposely excluding black jurors from trials.
According to the lawsuit, Evans and his assistants have employed “-a policy, custom, or use of discriminatorily striking black jurors with peremptory challenges,” since taking office in 1992.
The plaintiffs are requesting for a judge to order Evans to stop using challenges as a way to remove black jurors. These challenges allow lawyers to remove jurors without giving a specific reason
The lawsuit touched on a Supreme Court ruling that allowed a black death row inmate in Mississippi to get a new trial after Evans engaged in unconstitutional racial discrimination when turning away black jurors.
Curtis Flowers was tried five times for the 1996 murder of four people inside a furniture store. After his sixth trial in 2010, a conviction stuck and he was sentenced to death.
“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,” Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote.
The lawsuit argues that without the court’s intervention, Evans will ignore the Supreme Court Ruling and continue discriminatory practices “-not just in Curtis Flowers’ case, but in every case in the Fifth Circuit Court District in which Black citizens appear for jury service.”
The lawsuit claims that Evans made two stops during his 1991 campaign that “foreshadowed hostility towards African Americans.”
The first one was at a Council of Conservative Citizens meeting.
The Southern Poverty Law Center refers to the Council of Conservative Citizens as “a crudely white supremacist group,” and the group’s statement of principles on its website outlines an opposition to “all efforts to mix the races of mankind” and argues that the United States’ population “should remain European in their composition and character.”
Since he has been in office, Evan’s office has prosecuted more than 400 criminal trials, according to the lawsuit.
In 225 of them, the suit claims 29% of the jurors struck were white and 71% were black.