Call Today for a FREE Consultation

262-923-8761

24 HOUR EMERGENCY CONTACT

Should a history of prosecutor misconduct be considered on appeal?

| Nov 13, 2018 | Criminal Appeals

Curtis Flowers was convicted of murdering the owner of a furniture store he once worked in, along with three employees. The alleged motive was revenge — the store owner had fired him and withheld most of his final paycheck to pay for merchandise he had supposedly damaged. He was sentenced to death.

Despite the fact that there was no physical or forensic evidence connecting him to the crime, Flowers was tried six times. Two trials ended with hung juries. Three convictions were overturned for prosecutorial misconduct.

The Montgomery County, Mississippi, prosecutor who tried Flowers is accused of intentionally and illegally keeping black people off the juries. In a landmark 1986 case called Batson v. Kentucky, the U.S. Supreme Court held that excluding jurors based on their race violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Yet the prosecutor “relentlessly removed as many qualified African-American jurors as he could,” reads Flowers’ Supreme Court petition. “He struck all 10 African-Americans who came up for consideration during the first two trials, and he used all 26 of his allotted strikes against African-Americans at the third and fourth trials.”

In fact, in both the second and third trials against Flowers, judges specifically found racial bias in the prosecutor’s jury selection decisions.

American Public Media analyzed the prosecutor’s overall record for evidence of bias against black jurors. In 225 trials between 1992 and 2017, the journalists found, the prosecutor’s office struck 50 percent of eligible African-Americans off of juries, while striking only 11 percent of white jurors.

The U.S. Supreme Court has already heard one appeal from Flowers. After he complained that the prosecutor had only allowed a single qualified African-American on his jury, U.S. Supreme Court ordered the Mississippi Supreme Court to consider whether the prosecutor’s race-neutral explanations for eliminating the black jurors were valid. The Mississippi Supreme Court reaffirmed the conviction.

Since then, the case against Flowers has further unraveled. All three jailhouse informants have recanted their testimony — one very publicly on American Pubic Media’s In the Dark podcast.

Flowers has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to determine whether a prosecutor’s proven history of racial bias in jury selection should be considered when challenging the jury selection in the latest case. However, the U.S. Supreme Court has only agreed to decide whether the Mississippi Supreme Court erred in reaffirming Flowers’ conviction.

Racial bias in jury selection is wrong. It prevents people with similar life experiences to the defendant from contributing their knowledge and expertise, and it removes potentially sympathetic jurors from the case for no good cause. It unfairly skews the case against the defendant and should never be tolerated.

Archives

“I just want to say thank you for the outstanding work you have done for him and let you know how much we appreciate the time and attention you gave to his case. We are obviously overjoyed by today’s dismissal!” (Child pornography case dismissed after motion to suppress was granted)”

“After having had time to exhale, we thank each one of you and all the others who contributed to the exemplary Supreme Court presentation. We are proud of your efforts on our behalf and, equally important, on behalf of the many present and future defendants statewide.” (Client’s comment after Supreme Court oral argument)

“Thank you. Thank you. I am so pleased to hear that we won. It doesn’t seem that it was even a close call. I appreciate your efforts.” (Oconto County defendant after Buting, Williams & Stilling got his prison sentence overturned in the court of appeals) ”

“Your time and advice was appreciated more than words can express at a time when we really needed someone to guide us.” (Client)

“The outcome was amazing, one unavailable even under identical circumstances in probably 98 percent of federal courtrooms around the country. Separate and apart from the outcome, though, I am supremely impressed by your efforts on your client’s behalf. Your comments in support of the requested sentence were perfect in tone and, having now reviewed the extensive sentencing memorandum you filed, your work in that regard was exemplary as well. Your client was certainly fortunate to have you as his attorney.” (Local federal court attorney present at a sentencing)

“I can’t thank you enough, not only for all of the tireless work that you and your staff put into my case, but for telling me what I needed to hear, at a time when I absolutely had to hear it. I consider myself blessed for everything turning out the way it did, especially since I blindly picked you out of a phone book! You helped me, my family and friends in many more ways than the money ever could.” (Child pornography client)

“I think you will find that in any circles where Kathy’s name is raised, people will always respond positively and identify her as an extremely hardworking, knowledgeable and ethical lawyer who is timely and effective with any endeavor she takes on. These circles would include colleagues, friends, prosecutors, judges, professors and others who have crossed paths with Kathy. They would also include the many lawyers like me who have referred numerous cases to Kathy, invariably with positive feedback from the clients regarding her knowledge of their case, empathy, professionalism and fair-mindedness in addressing their concerns.” (Fellow attorney)

“Thank you for giving [our son] back to us. Wonderful work!” (Family of client accused of armed robbery after charges were dismissed)

“Yes, His perfect time and perfect place, you were a part of this plan. I almost didn’t hire you, but I took a step of faith trusting Him and look what happened? Praise God. Our Lord put you in your vocation for a reason, continue to help those He brings your way. May He bless you in ALL you do!” (Client who was wrongfully convicted of sexual assault in a northwestern Wisconsin county. He was released from prison after attorneys got his conviction reversed.)

“I really cannot thank you enough for your past help. You really know your stuff. It is actually funny when I think about my other past attorney’s knowledge and then when I talk with you. It’s like night and day. You’re like a walking book of knowledge with a purpose-driven life. Thanks.” (Brown County client of attorney Buting)

“A year later and I still believe your defense is the single best example of lawyering I have ever seen.” (Television reporter commenting on attorney Buting’s defense of Steven Avery)

“You have a certain brilliance that makes me sure that when you talk, it is good information and I am in good hands. You tell it to me like it is even when the things you say are not always the things that I would like to hear. You keep it REAL!!!” (Brown County client)

“Thank you, thank you, thank you! I feel like this was one of the biggest blessings that happened in my life. I put this along with my children being born healthy and when I survived that horrific shooting. I appreciate everything you have done for me. I couldn’t ask for better lawyers. I want to say thank you to everybody at your firm. I owe you more than the fee you so rightfully deserve. … You gave me back hope. Thank you, man! Out of my 36 years … I have never seen such kindness before. I don’t know what I did to deserve this; I’m very thankful nonetheless. Thank you for giving me hope again. Thank you for your generosity. There are still some really good people around.” (Federal criminal appeal client)

“There is no other attorney I’ve ever even heard of I’d rather have as chief counsel and leader of my defense/appeals than Jerome Buting. You’re the best. Period.” (Dane County client)

“Your advice and counsel were greatly appreciated. We appreciate you taking the time on your Sunday and evenings to help us. We are SO happy about the results! Thanks again.” (Waukesha County client)

“Thank you again … for everything. Five and one-half years of commitment, so many ups and downs and an outcome like that. You did a GREAT job.” (Waukesha County felony drug offense client)