Noted North Carolina Attorney Henderson Hill
to Join the Curtis Flowers Defense Team
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Dana Thomas, Communications Director
Mississippi Center for Justice
JACKSON, Miss., October 3, 2019 -- The Mississippi Center for Justice (MCJ) announced today that renowned attorney Henderson Hill of Charlotte NC will join the defense of Curtis Flowers as Flowers faces the prospect of an unprecedented seventh trial despite considerable evidence of innocence that continues to emerge as time goes by. Hill joins Jackson, MS attorney Rob McDuff, the director of MCJ’s impact litigation project, who previously agreed to represent Flowers in future proceedings after the United States Supreme Court reversed Flowers’ conviction and death sentence imposed at his sixth trial in this case from Winona, Mississippi that has garnered national attention.
“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.”
Each of the convictions in Flowers’ first three trials was overturned by the Mississippi Supreme Court for prosecutorial misconduct, including racial discrimination by the prosecutor in jury selection in the third trial. The fourth and fifth trials ended in hung juries. The conviction in the sixth trial was overturned on June 20, this time by the United States Supreme Court, due to the prosecutor’s ongoing use of challenges to prevent African-Americans’ from serving as jurors throughout the series of trials. In the meantime, Flowers has served over 22 years in prison, most of it on death row, despite the prosecution’s failure to secure a valid conviction.
“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.”
A graduate of Harvard Law School, Hill’s career included ten years with the Public Defender Service of Washington, DC, fifteen years with the renowned civil rights law firm of Ferguson Stein Chambers Gresham & Sumter in North Carolina, and three years as the chief federal public defender in the Western District of North Carolina. He is experienced in trials and appeals in both criminal and civil cases.
The Mississippi Center for Justice’s litigation and public policy advocacy encompasses several areas related to racial and economic justice, including voting rights, housing, consumer protection, and educational access. In 2017, MCJ and Rob McDuff jointly launched the George Riley Impact Litigation Initiative, which is named in honor of longtime MCJ board member George Riley.
McDuff is a civil rights and criminal defense lawyer with a private practice in Jackson. However, he spends much of his time in his role as director of MCJ’s impact litigation initiative.
Flowers was represented during the last four trials by the Mississippi Office of Capital Defense Counsel. His successful appeal regarding the latest trial was handled by lawyers from the Cornell Death Penalty Project. The Hogan Lovells law firm and the Mississippi Innocence Project prepared a thorough post-conviction petition for Flowers in the event his appeal did not succeed. McDuff and Hill said the evidence uncovered by all of these offices will play an important role going forward, as well the evidence uncovered by the highly acclaimed podcast “In The Dark” from American Public Media, which focused its second season on the Flowers case.