Trouble in Loperland:Curtis Flowers Trial, Day Two

(This post is part of a series concerning Curtis Flowers, an innocent man convicted of a horrific crime that has divided a small Mississippi town.  Information on the Flowers case can be found here.)

While Winona’s black community runs scared, would-be jurors are running a scam.

It started early.  District Attorney Doug Evans was working through his standard voir dire questions. “Anything you’ve heard outside the courtroom needs to be dropped at the door,” he told the six dozen jurors remaining in the jury venire. “Does anyone think they couldn’t do that?”

An earnest-looking white woman raised her hand. “I don’t think I could,” she said.  She had formed an opinion about the case, she explained, and no evidence she heard in the courtroom could possibly change her mind.

A black woman’s hand shot into the air. “I don’t think I could either,” she reported.

Seconds later, three more black jurors were saying the same thing.

Then the prosecutor asked if there was anyone who didn’t feel they could stand in judgment of another human being.

Eleven hands were raised, two white and nine black.

Ray Carter, Mr. Flowers lead counsel, used all his lawyerly skills to rehabilitate most of these people—if only for the time being. Most of them were desperate to avoid jury duty.

“Mr. Flowers is not guilty,” Carter told his captive audience. “In fact, Mr. Flowers is innocent.”

“This is improper,” Doug Evans roared, his voice dripping with indignation.

Carter was undeterred. He had expected this response.

“Judge,” he explained calmly, “I don’t want anyone to think that just because Curtis Flowers has been tried over and over again, that he’s guilty.”

Then the black attorney turned his attention to the jurors who claimed they couldn’t stand in judgment. Carter knew what they were thinking. Most of them didn’t believe Curtis Flowers was guilty, but they feared a powerful backlash from leading lights within the white community if they voted their conscience.

Almost all the “couldn’t-sit-in-judgment” people are economically dependent on influential white people, but it goes deeper than that. They wonder what would happen if their children or their grandchildren got cross-ways with the law. Would the authorities retaliate against the-guy-that-hung-the-jury-in-2010? Maybe not, but how can you be sure?

“I know some of you are uncomfortable being here,” Carter said. “But sometimes in life we are asked to do things we don’t like to do.”

Carter called one of the jurors who used the can’t-sit-in-judgment dodge by name. “Did you tell Mr. Evans you couldn’t sit in judgment, or did you just say you didn’t want to?”

“I didn’t say I couldn’t,” the woman explained, “I said I didn’t want to.”

Several black jurors adjusted their earlier comments, but others refused to budge. “I couldn’t do it,” one woman explained. “The ones who are in there, the decision that they would make, I couldn’t agree with it.”

Translation: “All those white folks are going to convict, I wouldn’t be able to go along, and I’m afraid I’d pay dearly. Either that, or I’d cave in to pressure and hate myself for the rest of my life.”

Most of the remaining white jurors are sincere Christians struggling to do the right thing. Everyone in their social world believes Curtis is guilty. It’s settled orthodoxy, like believing in God. A healthy percentage of white jurors freely admit that, from where they sit, Curtis Flowers looks guilty and no amount of evidence is going to change that belief.

Another subset of white jurors is capable of maintaining an open-mind on the guilt-innocence issue. They live on the borders of Winona’s social mainstream and haven’t been directly affected by the wagon-circling and the rush to judgment.

Then we have the smiling members of the juror class. These folks are desperate for a conviction but know they can’t admit as much. They attend church with the victims’ families, they see them socially, and, back in the day, they went to school with them. Nonetheless, they could put all that aside. They could wipe their minds of all prejudgments and remove every twinge of empathy and compassion from their hearts.

These men and women are perjuring themselves to get on the jury.

But the slightest suggestion that these folks might be less than sincere is greeted with howls of protest (literally) from Evans and Loper. If white jurors claim to be fair and impartial, they are.

At one point, Ray Carter tried to explain to the jurors that white people sometimes have trouble identifying black people, and vice versa.

Doug Evans bellowed his objection and Judge Loper sustained. “This trial isn’t about black and white,” Loper sermonized, “it’s about right and wrong and it’s about guilt and innocence.”

Really? Does the Judge believe his own rhetoric?

On some level, I think he does. Loper spent most of Day Two defending the white con artists working the room. Loper and Evans worked like experienced tag team partners.

There is something unnerving about DA Evans and his pet judge. Joey Loper lives in a world of legal platitudes and fair-and-impartial jurors who know instinctively when the state has passed the threshold of reasonable doubt.

Race is never an issue in Loperland. All-white juries are fine and dandy because race doesn’t matter. State witnesses can be trusted because they’re just doing their civic duty (at $30,000 a pop).

In Loperland, jurors work in pristine isolation from their peers—there is no such thing as jury psychology or a herd mentality, just earnest citizens motivated by persuasive evidence.

In Loperland, race is a myth and social class is a mirage. There is no history and no sociology.

In Loperland, prosecutors always operate in good faith, defendants are always guilty and defense attorneys (if they know what’s good for them) yield gracefully to the inevitable.

But while Judge Loper and DA Evans turn a blind eye to the obvious, I am beginning to wonder if a credible jury can be selected from this kind of venire.

14 thoughts on “Trouble in Loperland:Curtis Flowers Trial, Day Two

  1. If it is so hard to find Blacks that are willing to serve on the jury, why doesn’t Curtis Flowers’ attorney request a change of venue? I believe that it is impossible to prove Curtis Flowers innocent, because he is not. His attorney knows that if he can get some Blacks on the jury, then it will probably be a hung jury again. I read your postings and other articles about the trial and it makes me believe that these are all tactics that the prosecution is using to manipulate the judicial system. As far as “Fear stalks a Mississippi Town”…the only fear that will stalk this town is if a murderer is set free just because he is successful in using his race to manipulate the system. There has been very little mention of Robert Golden, the one black victim. I met his wife soon after the murders and I hope that she and her family are not being isolated or discriminated against by the Black community.

  2. I’m sorry…I meant that the defense is using this publicity as manipulation. I just read in another one of your articles that the defense believes it is critical that the trial stays in Montgomery County. Please explain why this is important. It seems that it is almost impossible to find an unbiased jury in Montgomery County.

  3. Curtis Flowers is never going to get a fair trial in Winona or anywhere else because the powers-that-be are hellbent and determined to crucify him. Those who are scared probably need to fear retaliation because that is more than likely what will happen.

  4. I Wyzell, have not heard of this matter until now, I also understand about the racial divide that the state not alone the city of Winona have! this is a matter that is new to me and am trying and will have to get more knowledge on this legal matter in oder to way an opinion!

  5. Very good article puts the reader right in the courtroom. Why is the sixth prosecution not a violation of double jeopardy? (when there is reportedly evidence of prosecutorial misconduct – double jeopardy as it is applied in Arizona v. Minnett.)

  6. I couldn’t help but notice that the author of this article failed to identify themselves and leave their personal email address. It appears this author has a definate desire to persent the facts with a personal slant on what they THINK is the truth. Who are you?

  7. AS I READ THE ARTICLE, I RECALLED HOW WE AS BLACK AND SO CALLED CHRISTIAN HAS NO GUTS TO STAND ALONE. WHAT WOULD THIS WORLD WOULD BE LIKE IF JESUS HAD REFUSED TO STAND ALONE AND DIE FOR US. WHEN WE FEEL AS THOUGH WE CAN BE INFLUENCE BY ANYONE, THEN HOW CAN WE RAISED OUR CHILDREN TO STAND UP FOR WHAT IS RIGHT WHEN WE CANNOT. GOD DOES NOT GIVE US A SPIRIT OF FEAR BUT OF POWER AND LOVE AND A SOUND MIND. FEAR IS THE ISSUE HERE. JUST LIKE WE PAY NO ATTENTION TO OUR CHILDREN WHY IS IT SO HARD NOT TO PAY ANY ATTENTION TO A SOMEONE DIRECTING YOU DOWN THE WRONG PATH.

  8. I realize a person is innocent until proven guilty, but Curtis Flowers has been PROVEN GUILTY TWICE!! I don’t really believe it is a race issue. I believe this trial has become a race issue in the media, but the crime is that FIVE families have suffered for way too long – 14 years without closure. I have not sat on this jury, nor would I be so inclined, but it appears to me that justice has been robbed of all family members in this case. My prayers are that this will be the FINAL FLOWERS (Tardy Furniture Murder) TRIAL.

  9. Neither Robert Golden nor any of the other innocent victims of this heinous crime will be honored by convicting the wrong man.

    Alan Bean

  10. Holly: When a prosecutor resorts to illegal tactics to gain a conviction you don’t have a conviction. Juries get it wrong all the time, especially in cases like this.

    Alan Bean

  11. I new most of the people killed that fateful day in July of 96 at tardy funiture on a personal level. They where family friends and neighbors. Curtis flowers has had 5 previous trials and been convicted twice. It’s time for it to be over. This is an open wound that refuses to heal. I will remember the day it happened for the rest of my life. It was the day we as a community lost our peace of mind. Someone must pay a horrible price for this terrible crime. It is just my opinion when you step back and look at the issue that the bleeding hearts are trying to pull the race card. Claiming that if he is convicted that is because he is black not on the merits of the evidence. He had means as in a roumored missing key and knowledge of the location of the murder weapon he also knew the early morning schedule of the business. Motive mrs Bertha tardy fired him over the matter of several hundred dollars worth of materials. And no consistant alibi for his whereabouts at the time of the murders. Twenty-four men and women from differant races and counties and socia-economic backgrounds have convicted him in two seperate trails. It is my opinion that Curtis g. Flowers is gulity of the muders. And race should not be an issue. Only the facts should matter and as I see the facts he should get the death penality again or at least natural life without parole. And certain people should not try to influnce the case in the court of publc opinion.

  12. EVERYONE INSTEAD OF POINTING FINGERS,WE SHOULD ALL COME TOGETHER AND PRAY. LET’S TRY BEING ON ONE ACCORD AND ASKING GOD TO OPEN EVERYONE EYES TO ALL OF THE LIEING TESTIMONIES IN THE COURT ROOM. YES, THE FLOWERS FAMILY AS WELL AS EVERYONE WHO WERE MURDERED AT TARDY FURNITURE HAVE TO RE LIVE THIS EVERY TIME THERE IS A NEW TRAIL. THIS IS A VERY PAINFUL TIME FOR EVERYONE, GOD SAID WE SHOULD NOT JUDGE. I KNOW THAT GOD WILL PREVAIL. PLEASE EVERYONE LET’S COME TOGETHER AND PRAY AND ASK OUR HEAVENLY FATHER FOR GUIDANCE…

  13. There appears to be no facts at all on this case. It is all circumstanstial. The bucket has many holes in it and I would never convict this man due to all the lying and the emotions running wild.

    Everyone feels for the families who lost their loved one, but their attacking Dr. Bean and anyone at this point is silly and disturbing.

    When they surrounded Dr. Bean with their anger just proved they want this man to go down whether he is innocent or not. It does not matter to them.

    People have a tendency to hear the story the prosecutor wants presented. He leaves out what he wants to leave out in order to get a conviction. This happens everywhere.

    It is my opinion, this man is not guilty of this crime. The real murderer is still on the loose.

    The Prosecutor has proven not one thing on this man. It is just about anger and emotions. Due to that, it does become racial when a person no longer listens to facts or is so closed minded, it is obvious to the world.

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