Death and Dixie: How the Courthouse Confederate Flag Influences Capital Cases in Louisiana

43 Pages Posted: 4 Jan 2011 Last revised: 27 Aug 2011

Cecelia Trenticosta

The Justice Center's Capital Appeals Project

William Claude Collins III

Louisiana Capital Assistance Center (LCAC)

Date Written: January 3, 2011

Abstract

This article explores the constitutional problems associated with flying the Confederate flag at a death penalty trial in the South. Specifically, the Confederate flag at Caddo Parish Courthouse, in Shreveport, Louisiana, plays a toxic role in the administration of the death penalty in Shreveport. Post-Furman, Caddo Parish juries have voted to impose the death penalty on sixteen men and one woman: all but four have been black, and the combination of black-defendant and white victim exponentially increases the likelihood of aggressive prosecution. The flag’s presence at this courthouse raises unique dangers. Beyond the equal protection issues generated by the mere government display of the flag on state property, the flag’s presence at a courthouse implicates the accused’s right to due process, and both the defendants’ and the prospective jurors’ rights to all of the privileges or immunities attendant to being a citizen of a state in the Union.

Keywords: Confederate symbols, Confederate flag, Slavery, Constitutional Law, Reconstruction Era Amendments, Due Process, Equal Protection, Privileges or Immunities, Lynching, Shreveport, Caddo, Felton Dorsey

JEL Classification: D63,J7, J73, J71, J78, K1, K19, K30, K42

Suggested Citation

Trenticosta, Cecelia and Collins, William Claude, Death and Dixie: How the Courthouse Confederate Flag Influences Capital Cases in Louisiana (January 3, 2011). Harvard Journal on Racial & Ethnic Justice, Vol. 27, pp. 125-164, Spring 2011. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1734397

Cecelia Trenticosta (Contact Author)

The Justice Center's Capital Appeals Project ( email )

636 Baronne St.
New Orleans, LA 70113
United States

William Claude Collins III

Louisiana Capital Assistance Center (LCAC) ( email )

636 Baronne Street
New Orleans, LA 70113
United States

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