I’m a podcast geek. For those of you not in the know, a podcast is the most wonderful invention of the modern time for people like me who are nosey about the happenings of the world, but a little too lazy to dig up all the facts. Enter investigative journalists who do the work for you and tell the facts in a form reminiscent of a bedtime story. That is if a bedtime story included murder, wrongful conviction, and the constitution. So maybe an adult bedtime story.
In March of this year, I became fascinated with season two of In the Dark, a podcast exploring the story of a man, Curtis Flowers, whose been tried six different times and remains on death row for four murders in a furniture store in small town in Mississippi. https://www.apmreports.org/in-the-dark/season-two The catch? It’s very possible he didn’t do it. It’s also very possible he was convicted because he’s a black man tried by all-white juries.
Today, the Supreme Court reversed Curtis’s latest conviction after finding prosecutors should not have purposefully excluded black jurors. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/21/us/politics/curtis-flowers-supreme-court-in-the-dark-podacast.html Geek out with me for a moment. There’s something in the law called a Batson challenge. Basically, what that means is that a party can’t stack the jury by excluding jurors based on race or gender.
What the Supreme Court said today is that Batson is still the law of the land. A trial must be fair. And with that end to our adult bedtime story, we can all sleep a little better tonight.