AP posts, "NC Senate panel backs execution rule changes." It's by Gary D. Robertson, via WBNS-TV.
A Senate judiciary panel on Tuesday approved a Republican effort members say will kick-start the resumption of North Carolina executions after more than six years and help end a method for death-row prisoners seeking life sentences on racial bias claims.
The committee voted along party lines in favor of the measure that its chief sponsor says will ensure justice is carried out for those convicted of heinous murders. The full Senate could hear the bill later this week.
No one on North Carolina's death row has been executed since 2006 because of various legal appeals.
Capital punishment "is the law of the land, and it needs to be carried out until or unless the people of North Carolina decide they do not want a death penalty," Sen. Thom Goolsby, R-New Hanover, told the panel. "We have a number of families that continue to suffer. Their dead continue to rot in their graves, and they are waiting for justice in this state."
The bill places in state law mostly technical changes in part to reflect a state Supreme Court ruling that found doctors are required to oversee executions, after a state Medical Board rule barred doctors from doing so. The bill also repeals what's left of the 2009 Racial Justice Act, which already was weakened last year by the Republican-led General Assembly.
The original Racial Justice Act allowed death-row inmates to use statistics and other evidence to persuade a judge that bias influenced their sentences. Successful cases convert their sentences to a life term without parole.
Sen. Thom Goolsby's bill to repeal the Racial Justice Act easily passed a Senate committee Tuesday morning, but not before members heard emotional testimony from individuals on both sides of the death penalty debate.
While the death penalty is legal in North Carolina, the last execution in the state was in 2006.
Goolsby, R-New Hanover, says the Racial Justice Act, passed by the General Assembly in 2009, has resulted in an end run around the death penalty – "the law of our land."
The Racial Justice Act was passed into law on the heels of the exoneration of three black men. It prohibits the seeking of the death penalty on the basis of race and allows defense attorneys to present statistical evidence to uncover patterns of racial bias. It was significantly curtailed by the General Assembly last year, strictly limiting the data that can be presented.
News 14 Carolina, the Time Warner Cable local news outlet, posts, "Bill aimed at restarting executions in NC advanced by Senate committee."
“And it wasn't until the legislature passed a law, another law, that allowed us to put DNA in a database that I was actually freed. But I went through 36 judges, and all of them denied my appeal, even though I was innocent,” said Darryl Hunt.
The full Senate is expected to debate this bill before the end of the week.
Earlier coverage from North Carolina begins at the link. Later today, I'll be adding additional North Carolina news. As always, thanks to Gerda Stein for distributing.