Doug Evans, the District Attorney who tried death row exoneree Curtis Flowers for murder six times, is retiring. Mr. Flowers received four death sentences, but each conviction was overturned when courts found that Evans had illegally excluded Black jurors from the jury pool.

Mr. Flowers’ final conviction and death sentence was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court in Flowers v. Mississippi. The Court found that Evans had unconstitutionally struck Black jurors from the venire because of their race, contrary to the 1986 U.S. Supreme Court’s holding in Batson v. Kentucky. In the 7-2 decision, Justice Kavanaugh wrote, “[t]he State’s relentless, determined effort to rid the jury of black individuals strongly suggests that the State wanted to try Flowers before a jury with as few black jurors as possible, and ideally before an all-white jury.”

Mr. Evans’ retirement coincides with the Supreme Court’s decision not to review the conviction and death sentence of Tony Clark, another Black man sentenced to death in Mississippi, who has also alleged that the prosecutor in his case discriminated against Black jurors during jury selection. Justices Sotomayor, Kagan, and Jackson dissented from the Court’s denial of review. Justice Sotomayor wrote that “[t]his can only be read as a signal from the Mississippi Supreme Court that it intends to carry on with business as usual, no matter what this Court said in Flowers. By allowing the same court to make the same mistakes applying the same standard, this Court acquiesces in the Mississippi Supreme Court’s noncompliance. Today, this Court tells the Mississippi Supreme Court that it has called our bluff, and that this Court is unwilling to do what is necessary to defend its own precedent. The result is that Flowers will be toothless in the very State where it appears to be still so needed.”

Mr. Flowers was first sentenced to death in 1997 for a 1996 quadruple homicide in Montgomery County, Mississippi, by an all-white jury. That conviction, and his subsequent two convictions, where he was tried by eleven white jurors and one Black juror, were all overturned by the Mississippi Supreme Court because Evans had improperly excluded Black jurors from the jury. Evans, who personally tried each case, continued to prosecute Mr. Flowers. In the next two trials the jury was unable to reach a unanimous decision about Mr. Flowers’ guilt, splitting along racial lines. Evans again prosecuted Mr. Flowers, and in 2010, a jury composed of only one Black juror and eleven white jurors sentenced Mr. Flowers to death.

While his legal team appealed this conviction, American Public Media (APM) investigated Mr. Flowers’ case on its podcast In the Dark, and uncovered additional evidence of Mr. Flowers’ innocence, including evidence pointing to another suspect and a taped admission from the state’s star witness that he had perjured himself during the trial.

After the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Mr. Flowers’ 2010 conviction, Evans made the public statement that “It was a ridiculous ruling … They basically said there was nothing wrong with the case and reversed it anyway.” However, Evans voluntarily recused himself from Mr. Flowers’ case at that point, and the state Attorney General’s office subsequently dropped all charges against him, officially exonerating him after 23 years of imprisonment. He has since received $500,000 from the county for more than two decades of wrongful imprisonment.

A 2018 study by APM revealed that during Evans’ tenure as Mississippi’s Fifth Circuit Court District Attorney, prosecutors exercised peremptory strikes to exclude African Americans from jury service at nearly 4½ times the rate at which they struck white jurors. Despite both this report and his record in the Flowers case, Evans continued to run the office without oversight. He ran for re-election unopposed just months after the Supreme Court decision. A lawsuit against him was dismissed on procedural grounds, and bar complaints against him for this discriminatory behavior have not resulted in any known discipline.

DPIC’s Prosecutorial Accountability project has uncovered at least 68 death sentences which were overturned due to jury discrimination.


Parker Yesko, Mississippi DA, Exposed for Striking Black Jurors, Leaves His Office on His Own Terms, Bolts Magazine, June 30, 2023; Curtis Flowers, National Registry of Exonerations, Sept. 42021