"NC reversal on death penalty law reopens old discrimination wounds," is by Kimberly Johnson at Aljazeera America. Here's the beginning of this solid overview:
When Benjamin McKinney found himself on the jury of a death penalty case in North Carolina in 1996, his focus was on the defendant and the evidence presented. He had no idea at the time the level of scrutiny prosecutors were placing on him, too.
McKinney had served in the military and worked for the same company for three decades. He has no criminal record and, by his own estimation, is an upstanding citizen. More than 15 years passed before McKinney, who is black and now 65, learned prosecutors attempted to strike him from sitting on the jury for the capital case because he was also a member of the NAACP.
“He's a member of an organization which I strongly associate with being anti-state and anti-death penalty,” the prosecutor then told the judge. The request to strike him, however, was found unconstitutionally discriminatory and McKinney was allowed to serve. The jury ultimately found the defendant guilty.
“Come to find out all of this happened behind closed doors,” said McKinney, who was informed of the statements by the ACLU while it looked into cases of racial discrimination in capital trials. “It didn’t really matter about my character, it was all about the color of my skin. It kind of makes you lose faith in the court system.”
Race continues to threaten the balance of justice in North Carolina, critics say, as a new law has gone into effect cutting off appeals of death row inmates charging racial discrimination.