CDPL founder and former director Henderson Hill is joining the defense team of Curtis Flowers, a death-sentenced man in Mississippi whose extraordinary case rose to national prominence after a gripping podcast revealed that he is innocent.
Flowers is facing a seventh trial for the same crime. The U.S. Supreme Court overturned his case earlier this year after finding that the prosecutor had systematically excluded African American jurors at all six of Flowers’ previous trials. Now, the same district attorney appears poised to try Flowers again, even after the previous six trials either ended in hung juries or were overturned because of prosecutorial misconduct. Meanwhile, Flowers has spent 22 years in prison, most of it on death row, for a crime he didn’t commit.
“A good friend has famously observed that our criminal justice system treats you better if you are rich and guilty than if you are poor and innocent,” said Hill. “The justice system’s serial abuse of Curtis Flowers — poor, black and innocent — must and will stop. I am honored to work with Rob McDuff and the Mississippi Center for Justice to achieve that to which Mr. Flowers is so deeply entitled: a full measure of justice and vindication.”
The evidence of racist jury selection in Flowers’ case is strikingly similar to evidence that CDPL helped uncover in North Carolina under the Racial Justice Act. CDPL is litigating dozens of cases in which black jurors across North Carolina were illegally denied the right to serve because of their race.
Hill has spent his career fighting against the death penalty and championing civil rights. In addition to founding CDPL, he directed the Eighth Amendment Project, a national nonprofit that works to end the death penalty. His work has helped many people avoid death sentences and execution. In 2014, he won CDPL’s J. Kirk Osborn Award for leadership in capital defense.
“Henderson Hill is known throughout the country as an excellent lawyer with considerable courtroom experience in criminal defense and capital cases,” said McDuff. “He is a tireless proponent of fairness in our justice system, and his presence will add greatly to the effort to finally obtain justice for Curtis Flowers.”