UNITED STATES NEWS

Mississippi prosecutor who excluded Black jurors is resigning after more than 30 years

Jun 29, 2023, 9:06 AM

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A white Mississippi district attorney has resigned after more than 30 years on the job, during which he prosecuted a Black man six times in the shooting deaths of four people and excluded Black people from juries in a practice that led the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the man’s conviction and death sentence.

Doug Evans is stepping down Friday, six months before his term ends. He did not immediately return a phone call Thursday seeking comment.

He unsuccessfully ran for a judgeship in 2022 and was not seeking reelection as district attorney this year in a north-central Mississippi district that covers seven counties.

Evans has been in office since 1992, and his jury selection tactics were scrutinized for years. His exclusion of Black jurors caused the Supreme Court to overturn the final conviction of Curtis Flowers in June 2019, with Justice Brett Kavanaugh citing a “relentless, determined effort to rid the jury of Black individuals.”

Flowers stood trial six times in the 1996 shooting deaths of four people at a furniture store in Winona, with four convictions and two mistrials. He has always maintained his innocence. Flowers remained in prison for six months after the Supreme Court overturned his final conviction because he was still under indictment, and he was released in December 2019 after a judge set bond.

Mississippi dropped charges against Flowers in September 2020, months after Evans turned the case over to the state attorney general.

The Supreme Court ruling that led to Flowers’ freedom came after American Public Media’s “In the Dark” investigated the case. The podcast recorded jailhouse informant Odell Hallmon in 2017 and 2018 recanting his testimony that Flowers had confessed to him. It also presented an analysis finding a long history of racial bias in jury selection by Evans.

Circuit Judge Joseph H. Loper Jr. on Wednesday appointed Mike Howie, who has been an assistant district attorney for 17 years, to temporarily succeed Evans in Attala, Carroll, Choctaw, Grenada, Montgomery, Webster and Winston counties.

Two other people are running for the district attorney position, both as Republicans. Loper said in his order that Republican Gov. Tate Reeves intends to appoint the winner of the Aug. 8 GOP primary to serve the final months of this term, through December, before beginning a new term in January.

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Mississippi prosecutor who excluded Black jurors is resigning after more than 30 years