Are You Listening to This?
This is the golden age of true crime podcasts. There is no shortage of true crimes that you can learn about in audio format. Most of them have to do with cold cases that were never solved or innocent men who are wrongfully in prison. These podcasts can be good sources to use to learn more about the law and your rights within it.
In the Dark is a podcast that is about something a little different. It highlights the case of Curtis Flowers from Winona, Mississippi. Flowers’ case is notorious because he has been tried for the same four murders six different times. Each time he was found guilty. Each time the conviction was overturned on appeal.
Isn’t This Double Jeopardy?
American Public Media released a supplemental column explaining that the Flowers convictions, and later reversals, are not violations of the Double Jeopardy Clause. This is because Flowers has never been found not guilty of the murders. He has always been found guilty.
When the appeals have overturned the convictions, it is up to the prosecutor whether or not to try the case again. The prosecutor in this jurisdiction is a man named Doug Evans. It is still unclear as to why Evans has decided to try the case this many times – maybe because the series is only a few episodes into the season.
So What Is Double Jeopardy?
Double jeopardy is one of those legal terms that is pretty well known in the common vernacular, in part because of a popular game show and a 1999 movie starring Tommy Lee Jones and Ashley Judd. Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines it as “the putting of a person on trial for an offense for which he or she has previously been put on trial under a valid charge.” In other words, it means that you are tried a second time for the same offense.
Double jeopardy, in the legal sense, has been illegal since the beginning of this country. The Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution says it this way: “…nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb…” You cannot be tried a second time for the same offense. This is foundational to our system of justice. And, it's something that not all countries enjoy.
Unfortunately, this does not apply to Curtis Flowers. Prosecutors, as long as the defendant has not been found not guilty, can continue to try a case if they are convinced by the evidence that he or she is guilty. In this case, we must assume that this is how Doug Evans feels.
It would be one thing if Flowers was free in between these trials. He is not. He has been imprisoned for over twenty years.
It is good that In the Dark is examining this case. After just two episodes, it is already clear that the evidence against Flowers is flawed. As this blog has often stated, the criminal justice system requires balance in order to properly work. It has been out of balance in Winona, Mississippi for a long time.
If you need a defense attorney, find one who has been helping to maintain that needed balance in the Central Virginia area for many years. Call or e-mail today for a free consultation!
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