A Bellwether for Jury Selection Jurisprudence
6 Pages Posted: 17 Oct 2019 Last revised: 11 Feb 2020
Date Written: October 7, 2019
The case of Flowers v. Mississippi recently reached a decision in the United States Supreme Court, and has implications for interpretation of both the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution concerning discrimination and fair jury selection. The outcome of this case has the potential to mark a profound shift in future state and federal rulings on intent of bias in jury selection. Curtis Flowers was tried and convicted of murder in Winona, Mississippi following an armed robbery of a furniture store in 1996. Flowers was ultimately sentenced to death following his conviction for the murder of one of the employees of the store. Flowers challenged the ruling on the grounds that his right to a fair trial had been violated as a result of evidence presented against him by three of the store employees. The decision was reversed and remanded. Five more trials took place after Flowers was again convicted and sentenced to death, but Flowers challenged the subsequent rulings on the basis of racial discrimination in the jury selection process. Flowers’ case was taken up by the United States Supreme Court following his conviction at his sixth trial, with his petition alleging violations of his Sixth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. The Sixth Amendment provides the accused with the procedural right to a trial by an impartial jury in all criminal prosecutions. It represents an important check, placed in the hands of individual citizens, against arbitrary prosecution by the government. The Fourteenth Amendment contains the Equal Protection Clause, which maintains that no state shall deprive any person within its jurisdiction of equal protection of the laws.These amendments hold significant power in the determination of what is considered to be fair concerning jury selection in criminal law proceedings.
Keywords: Fourteenth Amendment, Equal Protection Clause, Jury Selection, Flowers v. Mississippi
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