You are studying the federal court system and your state’s court system. The highest court in the federal system is the U.S. Supreme Court. Watch the following video about how a case may make its way to the Supreme Court:
As stated in the video, most cases do not make it to the Supreme Court. However, there are a small number of cases that make it to the Supreme Court more than once. One example is Flowers v. Mississippi.
In this case, Curtis Flowers was tried for murder involving the same incident in six different trials. The first three trials resulted in convictions, and Flowers received the death penalty, but all were reversed by the Mississippi Supreme Court for prosecutorial misconduct. Flowers’ fourth and fifth trials ended in mistrials, but he was tried and convicted again in a sixth trial and received the death penalty.
On appeal, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed the conviction. When the case was taken to the Supreme Court, the Court remanded the case to the Mississippi Supreme Court for reconsideration of a legal issue. The Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed the trial court conviction again. The Supreme Court again granted a petition for writ of certiorari and reversed and remanded the case for a new trial.
Instead of trying Flowers in a seventh trial, the state of Mississippi dismissed the charges against Flowers in the interest of justice, and Flowers is now free.
You can read more about the case in this link. Curtis Flowers spent nearly half his life in prison for the murders of four people and may still be on death row if not for the investigative work of a podcast.
Discuss the following:
- What surprises you most about how the Flowers case was handled in the court system?
- Discuss how the resolution of this case differs from your expectations of how a typical case is handled in the court system.
- Based on the Flowers case, what recommendations would you make to improve the court system?