Entries tagged with “Racial Justice Act

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Sep 04, 2020

California Legislature Passes Racial Justice Package Affecting Death-Penalty Practices

In the clos­ing days of its 2020 leg­isla­tive ses­sion, the California leg­is­la­ture passed a trio of racial jus­tice reform bills expect­ed to reduce the influ­ence of racial, eth­nic, and socioe­co­nom­ic bias in the admin­is­tra­tion of the death penal­ty in the state with the country’s largest death row.

Policy Issues

Race

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Representation

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Federal Death Penalty

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Aug 17, 2020

Capital Case Roundup — Death Penalty Court Decisions the Week of August 102020

NEWS (8/​14/​20) — Alabama: The Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals has affirmed a low­er court rul­ing grant­i­ng a new tri­al to death-row pris­on­er Steven Petric based upon his lawyer’s inef­fec­tive rep­re­sen­ta­tion at tri­al. Petric had been con­vict­ed and sen­tenced to death in 2009 for a rape and mur­der in sub­ur­ban Birmingham two decades earlier.

Policy Issues

Race

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Recent Legislative Activity

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Oct 04, 2012

Challenges to Jury Selection Continue under North Carolina’s Racial Justice Act

On October 2, Judge Gregory Weeks heard tes­ti­mo­ny regard­ing racial bias in jury selec­tion, as three North Carolina death row inmates chal­lenged their sen­tences under the state’s Racial Justice Act. Prof. Barbara O’Brien of Michigan State University pro­vid­ed sta­tis­ti­cal evi­dence of racial bias in the fre­quent rejec­tion of African-American poten­tial jurors from death penal­ty tri­als in the state. According to O’Brien’s study, qual­i­fied black jurors were twice as like­ly to be dis­missed from serv­ing in North Carolina death penal­ty cas­es as non-black jurors. Her study ana­lyzed jury selec­tion pat­terns under…

Policy Issues

Arbitrariness

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Race

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Feb 22, 2019

Friend-of-the-Court Briefs Challenge Systemic Injustices in North Carolina Death Penalty 

Two ami­cus curi­ae briefs filed in the Racial Justice Act appeal of North Carolina death-row pris­on­er Rayford Burke (pic­tured) are ask­ing the North Carolina Supreme Court to redress sys­temic prob­lems in North Carolina’s admin­is­tra­tion of its death penal­ty. One brief, filed by the New York-based NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF), urges the court to pro­vide Burke the oppor­tu­ni­ty to prove that racial bias imper­mis­si­bly influ­enced jury selec­tion and infect­ed his death sen­tence.” A sec­ond brief, filed by the Promise of Justice Initiative and 12 for­mer judges, pros­e­cu­tors, and…

Policy Issues

Race

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Recent Legislative Activity

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Aug 11, 2009

Gov. Perdue Signs North Carolina’s Racial Justice Act – NAACP Commends Passage

Governor Beverly Purdue of North Carolina signed the state’s Racial Justice Act into law on August 11, con­clud­ing a long peri­od of leg­isla­tive action sur­round­ing this death penal­ty statute. Gov. Purdue said in a news release, I have always been a sup­port­er of death penal­ty, but I have always believed it must be car­ried out fair­ly. The Racial Justice Act ensures that when North Carolina hands down our state’s harsh­est pun­ish­ment to our most heinous crim­i­nals – the deci­sion is based on the facts and the law, not racial prejudice.”…

Policy Issues

Race

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May 28, 2021

In New Round of Racial Justice Act Litigation, North Carolina Judge Orders Prosecutors to Disclose Data on Decades of Jury Strikes

In the first Racial Justice Act case to reach a hear­ing since the North Carolina Supreme Court struck down the state legislature’s attempt to retroac­tive­ly repeal the land­mark law, a North Carolina judge has ordered state pros­e­cu­tors to pro­duce decades of data on jury selec­tion in cap­i­tal cas­es. On May 20, 2021, Superior Court Judge Wayland Sermons (pic­tured) grant­ed a request from the legal team rep­re­sent­ing death-row pris­on­er Hasson Bacote that pros­e­cu­tors pro­duce records relat­ed to pros­e­cu­to­r­i­al train­ing and com­mu­ni­ca­tions regard­ing jury selec­tion, includ­ing jury selec­tion notes, since 1980.

Policy Issues

Race

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Recent Legislative Activity

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Oct 25, 2022

Legal Reform Advocates: Racial Justice Act Will Reshape California Death Row

When Californias Racial Justice Act becomes applic­a­ble to the cas­es of pris­on­ers on the state’s death row begin­ning in January 2023, it will vast­ly reshape the legal land­scape of the state’s death penal­ty, legal reform advo­cates say.

Policy Issues

Race

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Jul 13, 2022

Marcus Robinson Remembered for Pioneering Racial Justice Case

Marcus Robinson (pic­tured), the first per­son to be grant­ed relief under North Carolinas trail­blaz­ing Racial Justice Act, has died. Robinson, who was sen­tenced to death in 1994 for a crime he com­mit­ted short­ly after turn­ing 18, died June 9, 2022. He was 49 years old.

Policy Issues

Race

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Jun 30, 2020

New Podcast: Henderson Hill and North Carolina’s Historic Racial Justice Act Rulings

In the June 2020 episode of Discussions with DPIC, Henderson Hill (pic­tured), Senior Counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union Capital Punishment Project, speaks with Death Penalty Information Center Executive Director Robert Dunham about North Carolinas Racial Justice Act. Hill, who has spent decades as a pub­lic defend­er, cap­i­tal defense attor­ney, and civ­il rights advo­cate, is cur­rent­ly rep­re­sent­ing North Carolina death-row pris­on­ers in the Racial Justice Act lit­i­ga­tion chal­leng­ing their death sentences.

Policy Issues

Arbitrariness

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Race

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May 29, 2012

NEW RESOURCES: DPIC’s Summary of First Ruling Under North Carolina’s Racial Justice Act

The Death Penalty Information Center has pre­pared a sum­ma­ry of North Carolina v. Robinson, the first rul­ing issued under North Carolina’s Racial Justice Act. The opin­ion by Superior Court Judge Gregory Weeks on April 22, 2012, reduced Marcus Robinson’s (pic­tured) death sen­tence to life with­out parole. DPIC’s sum­ma­ry high­lights the sta­tis­ti­cal evi­dence of racial bias in elim­i­nat­ing poten­tial black jurors that led the court to rule in Robinson’s favor. The Court con­clud­ed that Robinson has estab­lished that race was a sig­nif­i­cant fac­tor in deci­sions of pros­e­cu­tors to exer­cise peremp­to­ry strikes…from…

Policy Issues

Race

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Recent Legislative Activity

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May 09, 2007

North Carolina Could Become Second State to Pass Racial Justice Act

North Carolinas leg­is­la­ture recent­ly took an impor­tant step toward becom­ing the nation’s sec­ond state to pass a Racial Justice Act, leg­is­la­tion that gives defen­dants the oppor­tu­ni­ty to chal­lenge the death penal­ty based on stud­ies show­ing racial bias. The bill was quick­ly approved by mem­bers of the House Judiciary II Committee and will now go before the full House for con­sid­er­a­tion. The leg­is­la­tion is sim­i­lar to leg­is­la­tion enact­ed in Kentucky in 1998 and, accord­ing to the NAACP, it tar­gets the issue of the dis­pro­por­tion­ate num­ber of minor­i­ty inmates who face…

Policy Issues

Race

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Dec 21, 2015

North Carolina Court Reverses Racial Justice Act Ruling, Orders New Hearings

The North Carolina Supreme Court has reversed the his­toric rul­ings of a Cumberland County, N.C. tri­al court that had over­turned the death sen­tences of four North Carolina death-row pris­on­ers under the state’s Racial Justice Act. Ruling entire­ly on pro­ce­dur­al grounds, the state’s high court expressed no opin­ion on the low­er court’s fact find­ings that North Carolina pros­e­cu­tors had engaged in a decades-long prac­tice of inten­tion­al race dis­crim­i­na­tion in jury selec­tion in cap­i­tal cases.

Policy Issues

Race

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Recent Legislative Activity

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Jul 25, 2011

North Carolina Court to Hear First Challenge under State’s Racial Justice Act

Marcus Robinson will be the first North Carolina death row inmate to have a sen­tenc­ing chal­lenge heard in court based on the state’s 2009 Racial Justice Act. According to the act, a death row inmate who can estab­lish through sta­tis­ti­cal stud­ies that his sen­tence was racial­ly dis­crim­i­na­to­ry can seek to have it com­mut­ed to life in prison. Robinson’s lawyers plan to argue that he received a death sen­tence part­ly because he is black and his vic­tim was white They plan to cite sev­er­al North Carolina stud­ies, includ­ing one that found…

Policy Issues

Arbitrariness

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Race

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Jul 23, 2018

North Carolina Death-Row Prisoners Challenge Retroactive Repeal of Racial Justice Act

Four African-American death-row pris­on­ers in North Carolina whose death sen­tences had been over­turned for racial dis­crim­i­na­tion have chal­lenged the con­sti­tu­tion­al­i­ty of sub­se­quent state court rul­ings that rein­stat­ed their death sen­tences and then denied them a new hear­ing on their dis­crim­i­na­tion claims. The four—Marcus Robinson (pic­tured), Tilmon Golphin, Quintel Augustine, and Christina Walters—had over­turned their death sen­tences in 2012 under the North Carolina Racial Justice Act (RJA), pre­sent­ing evi­dence that a mul­ti-decade sys­tem­at­ic exclu­sion of African Americans from death-penal­ty juries in North Carolina had infect­ed their cas­es with racial bias. However,…

Policy Issues

Race

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Recent Legislative Activity

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Dec 14, 2011

North Carolina Governor Upholds Racial Justice Act, Calling Bias Unacceptable”

North Carolina Governor Bev Perdue vetoed the bill that would have repealed the state’s Racial Justice Act that was passed in 2009. The Act allows death row inmates to appeal their death sen­tences based on sta­tis­ti­cal stud­ies show­ing racial bias. In issu­ing the veto, the gov­er­nor, who sup­ports the death penal­ty, said, I am veto­ing Senate Bill 9 for the same rea­son that I signed the Racial Justice Act two years ago: it is sim­ply unac­cept­able for racial prej­u­dice to play a role in the impo­si­tion of the death penalty…

Policy Issues

Race

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Jun 29, 2012

North Carolina Governor Vetoes Racial Justice Rollback Legislation

On June 28, North Carolina’s Governor, Beverly Perdue, vetoed leg­is­la­tion that would have essen­tial­ly repealed the state’s Racial Justice Act (RJA), a law allow­ing death row inmates to chal­lenge their death sen­tence based on statewide pat­terns of racial bias. The law Gov. Perdue vetoed would have removed the pos­si­bil­i­ty of show­ing bias based on these sophis­ti­cat­ed stud­ies. The gov­er­nor said, As long as I am gov­er­nor, I will fight to make sure the death penal­ty stays on the books in North Carolina. But it has to be car­ried out fairly…

Policy Issues

Race

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Recent Legislative Activity

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Nov 29, 2011

North Carolina Legislature Votes to Repeal Racial Justice Act; Governor May Veto

On November 28 the North Carolina Senate vot­ed to repeal the state’s Racial Justice Act, which allowed death row inmates to use sta­tis­ti­cal evi­dence of racial bias to chal­lenge their sen­tences. The House had ear­li­er approved the repeal mea­sure. The Act was passed in 2009, and the first cas­es brought under the law are just now being con­sid­ered in state court. There were con­sid­er­able shifts in the state’s leg­is­la­ture in the wake of the 2010 elec­tions, lead­ing to the repeal bill. Prosecutors had been unsuc­cess­ful­ly fight­ing appli­ca­tion of the law…

Policy Issues

Race

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Dec 18, 2015

North Carolina Racial Justice Act

In August 2009, North Carolina passed the Racial Justice Act, becom­ing the sec­ond state to allow courts to con­sid­er sta­tis­ti­cal evi­dence as proof of racial bias in the admin­is­tra­tion of the death penal­ty. As ini­tial­ly writ­ten, the North Carolina law per­mit­ted a judge to over­turn a death sen­tence or pre­vent pros­e­cu­tors from seek­ing the death penal­ty in an indi­vid­ual case upon proof of racial bias. Governor Beverly Purdue, who signed the act into law, stat­ed I have always been a sup­port­er of death penal­ty, but I have always believed it…

Policy Issues

Race

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Mar 14, 2024

North Carolina Racial Justice Act Hearing Concludes in Hasson Bacote Case

On Friday, March 8, 2024 a Johnston County tri­al court con­clud­ed a his­toric hear­ing regard­ing the claims of Hasson Bacote, a death-sen­tenced pris­on­er in North Carolina, that racial dis­crim­i­na­tion in jury selec­tion played a role in his 2009 cap­i­tal sen­tenc­ing. The case, which is being reviewed pur­suant to North Carolina’s 2009 Racial Justice Act (RJA), could have impli­ca­tions for more than 100 oth­er death row pris­on­ers who have pend­ing claims under the Act.

Policy Issues

Race

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Sep 28, 2020

North Carolina Supreme Court Restores Life Sentences to Three Prisoners Whose Death Sentences Violated Racial Justice Act

The North Carolina Supreme Court has ordered that three African American death-row pris­on­ers who had proven that their death sen­tences vio­lat­ed the state’s since repealed Racial Justice Act (RJA) must be resen­tenced to life impris­on­ment with­out pos­si­bil­i­ty of parole. In three deci­sions issued on September 25, 2020, the court ruled that North Carolina had vio­lat­ed con­sti­tu­tion­al prin­ci­ples of dou­ble jeop­ardy and the pro­hi­bi­tions against after-the-fact enhance­ments of pun­ish­ment when the Cumberland County tri­al court resen­tenced Christina Walters, Quintel Augustine, and Tilmon Golphin to death after they had estab­lished their enti­tle­ment to…

Policy Issues

Race

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Recent Legislative Activity

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Apr 11, 2014

North Carolina Supreme Court to Hear Racial Justice Act Cases

On April 14, the North Carolina Supreme Court will hear appeals in the cas­es of the four inmates whose death sen­tences were reduced to life with­out parole under the state’s Racial Justice Act. North Carolina passed the Act in 2009, allow­ing death row inmates to use sta­tis­ti­cal stud­ies to show that racial bias affect­ed their tri­als. The first four cas­es were heard in 2012. The evi­dence pre­sent­ed at hear­ings for defen­dants Marcus Robinson (l.), Tilmon Golphin, Quintel Augustine, and Christina Walters includ­ed tes­ti­mo­ny that pros­e­cu­tors made racial­ly charged notes during…

Policy Issues

Race

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Feb 26, 2024

North Carolina Trial Court Will Hear New Evidence of Racial Bias in Death Row Prisoner’s Racial Justice Act Claim

Beginning February 28, 2024, a Johnston County, North Carolina, tri­al court will hear death row pris­on­er Hasson Bacote’s claims that racial dis­crim­i­na­tion in jury selec­tion played a role in his cap­i­tal sen­tenc­ing. In 2009, North Carolina passed the Racial Justice Act (RJA), which allowed death-sen­tenced pris­on­ers to chal­lenge their sen­tences if they could demon­strate that race played a role in their sen­tenc­ing and jury selec­tion. Sentenced to death in 2009 by a near­ly all-white jury, Mr. Bacote, and near­ly all oth­er death row pris­on­ers in the state, filed a claim…

Policy Issues

Race

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Feb 17, 2012

RACE: First Hearing Under Racial Justice Act Concludes in North Carolina

The first hear­ing to decide whether there has been sig­nif­i­cant evi­dence of racial dis­crim­i­na­tion in the appli­ca­tion of North Carolinas death penal­ty was con­clud­ed on February 15. Cumberland County Judge Gregory A. Weeks, who presided over the two-and-a-half week hear­ing, will offer a deci­sion based on the state’s Racial Justice Act in the next few weeks. Much of the his­toric pro­ceed­ing focused on whether race played an improp­er role in jury selec­tion on cap­i­tal cas­es around the time of death row defen­dant Marcus Robinson’s tri­al. The focus was not on…

Policy Issues

Race

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Recent Legislative Activity

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Apr 20, 2012

RACE: North Carolina Judge Overturns Death Sentence Under Racial Justice Act

On April 20, North Carolina Superior Court Judge Gregory Weeks issued an his­toric rul­ing under the state’s Racial Justice Act find­ing inten­tion­al bias by the state in select­ing juries for death penal­ty cas­es. In what may be the first rul­ing of its kind in the coun­try, the court held that race was a mate­ri­al­ly, prac­ti­cal­ly and sta­tis­ti­cal­ly sig­nif­i­cant fac­tor in the deci­sion to exer­cise peremp­to­ry chal­lenges dur­ing jury selec­tion by pros­e­cu­tors” at the time of Marcus Robinson’s (pic­tured) tri­al. Robinson’s death sen­tence was reduced to life with­out parole.

Policy Issues

Race

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Recent Legislative Activity

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Nov 18, 2011

RACE: Supporters Re-Affirm Importance of North Carolina’s Racial Justice Act in Face of Prosecutors’ Challenges

Leaders from North Carolina’s civ­il rights groups, such as the NAACP, and from the defense bar have re-affirmed the need for the state’s Racial Justice Act, which was passed in 2009. The Act allows death row inmates to chal­lenge their death sen­tences using data from sta­tis­ti­cal stud­ies of racial bias with­in the state. The North Carolina Conference of District Attorneys is attempt­ing to have the law repealed because they say it threat­ens the entire death penal­ty sys­tem. Tye Hunter from the Center for Death Penalty Litigation said that some of…

Policy Issues

Race

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Recent Legislative Activity

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Jul 15, 2009

Racial Justice Act Passed In North Carolina House and Senate

On July 15, the House of Representatives of North Carolina vot­ed 61 – 53 to pass the Racial Justice Act. A sim­i­lar bill already passed the state sen­ate, though that bill con­tained an amend­ment to bypass some objec­tions to the state’s exe­cu­tion process. The new law, if final­ly approved, would allow judges to con­sid­er whether racial bias played a role in the deci­sion to seek or impose the death penal­ty. This is a fair­ness bill,” said Rep. Larry Womble, the Forsyth Democrat who helped cham­pi­on the bill. If we’re going to kill…

Policy Issues

Race

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Recent Legislative Activity

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Aug 06, 2009

Racial Justice Act pass­es in North Carolina

On August 5, the North Carolina sen­ate passed a bill allow­ing pre-tri­al defen­dants and death-row inmates to chal­lenge the death penal­ty process through the use of sta­tis­ti­cal stud­ies. The Racial Justice Act allows a defen­dant fac­ing a cap­i­tal tri­al or an inmate sen­tenced to death to use evi­dence show­ing a pat­tern of racial dis­par­i­ty as a way of chal­leng­ing racial injus­tice in the death penal­ty. Prosecutors would then have the oppor­tu­ni­ty to rebut the claim that the sta­tis­ti­cal dis­par­i­ties indi­cate racial bias. If proven, a judge could over­turn the death…

Policy Issues

Race

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Recent Legislative Activity

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Jun 07, 2013

RECENT LEGISLATION: North Carolina Legislators Vote to Repeal Racial Justice Act

On June 5, leg­is­la­tors in North Carolina vot­ed to repeal the Racial Justice Act, which had allowed death row inmates to chal­lenge their sen­tences using sta­tis­ti­cal evi­dence of racial bias. Since the law took effect in 2009, most of the inmates fac­ing exe­cu­tion in North Carolina appealed their sen­tence under the law. In 2012, Marcus Robinson, who was the first defen­dant to receive a hear­ing under the RJA, was re-sen­tenced to life with­out parole due to evi­dence of racial bias in jury selec­tion. Rep. Darren Jackson expressed his dis­ap­point­ment at…

Policy Issues

Innocence

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Race

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Recent Legislative Activity

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Apr 18, 2013

RECENT LEGISLATION: Texas Legislature Examining Problems of Innocence and Racial Bias

Two bills under con­sid­er­a­tion in Texas aim to address issues in the state’s death penal­ty. House Bill 2458 would allow defen­dants to appeal their death sen­tences if they can prove that race was a sig­nif­i­cant fac­tor in the deci­sion to seek or impose the death penal­ty. Statistical evi­dence of bias can be used to sup­port such a claim. Similar bills, referred to as the Racial Justice Act, have been con­sid­ered in oth­er states. Testimony in favor of the bill men­tioned the case of Duane Buck, an African American who was…

Policy Issues

Race

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Apr 22, 2012

The Case of Marcus Robinson

Marcus Robinson was the first defen­dant to receive a hear­ing under North Carolina’s Racial Justice Act. His sen­tence was reduced to life with­out parole due to evi­dence of racial bias in jury selection.