"McCrory signs repeal of Racial Justice Act," is the AP report via the Raleigh News & Observer. It contains additional information from News & Observer staff writer David Bracken and Charlotte Observer staff writer Rick Rothacker.
Gov. Pat McCrory’s signature Wednesday repealed a landmark law that had allowed convicted murderers to have their sentences reduced to life in prison if they could prove racial bias influenced the outcome of their cases.
McCrory signed a repeal of the 2009 Racial Justice Act, which both proponents and critics say will restart the death penalty in a state that hasn’t executed an inmate since 2006.
McCrory’s final signature followed months of debate between Democrats and Republicans on the law’s intent and the way it has played out. Republicans say it was so poorly crafted that it has allowed nearly all of the state’s 156 death-row inmates to launch appeals under the law regardless of their race. They say the law impedes the will of unanimous jury decisions.
McCrory raised similar complaints in a statement.
“The policy implementation of the law was seriously flawed. Nearly every person on death row, regardless of race, has appealed their death sentence under the Racial Justice Act,” he said. “The state’s district attorneys are nearly unanimous in their bipartisan conclusion that the Racial Justice Act created a judicial loophole to avoid the death penalty and not a path to justice.”
But Democrats argue there’s plenty of evidence that those juries were racially biased.
They cite a Michigan State University study of North Carolina that found evidence of prosecutors striking black people from capital cases at more than twice the rate of others over two decades.
They also point to the 2012 decisions of a Cumberland County judge to reduce the sentences of four convicted murderers on racial grounds.
ReutersLegal posts, "North Carolina governor signs law aimed at restarting executions," by Colleen Jenkins.
North Carolina's governor, hoping to resume executions in his state, on Wednesday signed the repeal of a law that has allowed death row inmates to seek a reduced sentence if they could prove racial bias affected their punishment.
The Racial Justice Act, the only law of its kind in the United States, had led to four inmates getting their sentences changed to life in prison without parole after taking effect in 2009.
Supporters said the historic measure addressed the state's long record of racial injustice in its capital punishment system, while critics said it caused unnecessary costs and delays after nearly all death-row inmates, including whites, sought relief under the act.
Governor Pat McCrory, a Republican, said repealing the law would remove the "procedural roadblocks" that had kept North Carolina from executing anyone since 2006 despite there being 152 people on death row.
The repeal applies retroactively to cases with pending Racial Justice Act claims, a factor certain to result in additional legal wrangling, one death penalty expert said.
"To me, it's a violation of due process," said Mark Rabil, director of Wake Forest University law school's Innocence and Justice Clinic in Winston-Salem. "I don't really know what the legislature thinks they've done with our money other than buy a lot more litigation."
As legislators in Raleigh once again fiddle with our state’s death penalty, some of us who are conservative republicans are at the point where we’ve had enough. The most recent attempts to modify North Carolina’s death penalty, yet again, are the latest indications that the system will never work properly. Conservatives across the nation are waking up to this the fact. I know about it firsthand because my brother, who lives in Houston, Texas, is a founding member of a group called Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty.
My brother’s group is part of a growing number of people on “the right” who are openly questioning whether the death penalty serves any good purpose for our society. Conservatives are asking these questions precisely because we are conservative republicans.
Earlier coverage from North Carolina begins at the link.