North Carolina Racial Justice Act

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April 21, 2012, 12:03:07 PM Last Edit: April 21, 2012, 12:04:52 PM by JeffB
Racial Justice Act spares 1st inmate from death sentence

Published Sat, Apr 21, 2012 12:05 AM
Modified Sat, Apr 21, 2012 04:39 A

Death row inmate Marcus Robinson smiles towards his family after Cumberland County Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Greg Weeks found that racial bias played a role in his trial and sentencing on Friday, April 20, 2012. The historic ruling means RobinsonÕs sentence was immediately converted to life without possibility for parole. It was the first case to be decided under the North Carolina's Racial Justice Act.

By Anne Blythe

FAYETTEVILLE -- Marcus Reymond Robinson will soon gather his few belongings from the cell on North Carolina's death row where he has spent the past 18 years and make a historic move to a maximum-security prison cell.

The 39-year-old convicted murderer is the first North Carolina death row inmate to have his sentence converted to life without possibility of parole using the state's fledgling and unique Racial Justice Act.

Under the 2-1/2-year-old law, Judge Gregory Weeks was able to weigh statistics while considering Robinson's claims that racial bias played a role in his trial and sentence.

Prosecutors announced plans to appeal the Robinson decision, a challenge that could slow rulings in similar claims from 154 other death row inmates.

Weeks, Cumberland County's chief resident Superior Court judge, read a summary of his findings Friday in a courtroom full of people keenly aware that they were witnessing a landmark ruling.

Robinson, wearing a white shirt and light-colored pants, sat at a table with his lawyers. The family of Erik Tornblom, the man Robinson killed in 1994, watched silently, though the disappointment showing on their faces spoke volumes. The family left the courthouse without commenting.

Weeks said that "race was a materially, practically and statistically significant factor" in the selection of a jury for Robinson's trial.

Prosecutors, according to a Michigan State University Law School study, used peremptory challenges to remove blacks from juries more than twice as often throughout North Carolina as they used them for whites.

In Cumberland County, it was almost three times as often.

"When the government's choice of jurors is tainted with racial bias, that overt wall casts down over the parties, the jury and the court to adhere to the law throughout the trial," Weeks said. "The very integrity of the court is jeopardized when a prosecutor's discrimination invites cynicism respecting the jury's neutrality and undermines public confidence."

Effect on other cases

Weeks' findings that potential black jurors systematically had been left out of the process of capital cases in North Carolina and Cumberland County at the time of Robinson's trial could play significantly in the cases of other death row inmates. Weeks said such decisions by prosecutors to strike African-Americans from potential jury pools undermined the courts and had a sweeping impact on the integrity and trust the community could place in the process.

Only a few inmates on North Carolina's death row did not file Racial Justice Act claims.

The ruling, the first of its kind in this country, came two days before the 25th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision that opened the door for states to adopt such laws as the Racial Justice Act.

North Carolina and Kentucky are the only two states that have done so, though.

The Racial Justice Act, which was narrowly adopted in 2009 along party lines, has been praised by supporters as a way to address blatant and subtle racism undermining the integrity of the state's courts.

Weeks had harsh words for prosecutors, saying the evidence presented earlier this year by Robinson's attorneys was enough "to support an inference of intentional discrimination."

The judge and many of the defense lawyers and death penalty critics said they hoped the ruling Friday would mark the beginning of a new chapter in North Carolina justice.

"We had hoped for this decision, we had worked for this decision. We thought the judge's decision was powerful," said James Ferguson, a Charlotte civil rights attorney who represented Robinson. "We know our work is not over, but we think this is a beginning."

District attorneys issued a statement strongly disputing that race is a significant factor in capital murder cases.

Legal scholars and death row critics from across the nation have watched with interest as the Robinson case went through the courts.

"The North Carolina legislation is a commendable attempt to do what the Supreme Court attempted to brush under the tablecloth," said James Acker, a criminal justice professor at the State University of New York-Albany who is putting on a symposium this weekend about the death penalty and race. He was referring to the 1987 Supreme Court decision that opened the door for states to adopt laws that give judges the authority to consider statistics in racial bias challenges.

Robinson, who has been incarcerated at Central Prison only with death row inmates since his conviction, will move to a general prison population. For the first time in years, he will be among those who are not awaiting execution.

Shirley Burns, Robinson's mother, described the moment as bittersweet. Her thoughts were with the Tornbloms, but she said the justice system should treat people fairly.

"There's justice at last," Shirley Burns said. "You've got to treat people right. You've got to treat people fair. That's what we depend on when we go through the system."

Read more here:

CRAP ! ! !     >:( ::)



CRAP ! ! !

Bombs do not choose. They will hit everything   ... Nikita Khrushchev

I once said, "We will bury you," and I got into trouble with it. Of course we will not bury you with a shovel. Your own working class will bury you.  ... Nikita Khrushchev


Every race has an equal shot at the death penalty anyway, so this bill is a waste of time! In retrospect, the supporters of this bill are the REAL racists, because they are focusing on the inmate and not the victim. If the death penalty is to be fairly applied, then it must be pursued in ALL CAPITAL CASES!
There is never a shortage of rope.


NC prosecutors learn to fight Racial Justice Act

The Associated Press

Thursday, May 17, 2012

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) -- About 60 prosecutors from North Carolina were learning how to fight motions filed under the Racial Justice Act during a closed-door training session Thursday in Forsyth County.

The Winston-Salem Journal reported ( that the prosecutors were being given information on the 2009 law, which allows death row prisoners to use statistics and other evidence to try to prove race played a significant role in their sentences.

If they're successful, their sentences are reduced to life in prison without parole. One sentence has been reduced so far, that of Marcus Robinson, who killed a white teenager.

Cumberland County Superior Court Judge Greg Weeks ordered his sentence reduced last month, saying race played a "persistent, pervasive and distorting role" in jury selection and couldn't be explained other than that "prosecutors have intentionally discriminated" against Robinson and other capital defendants statewide.

The training session is being held at an undisclosed location and isn't open to the public. Forsyth County District Attorney Jim O'Neill said he didn't know the cost, but said the bills will go to the N.C. Administrative Office of the Courts.

Forsyth County prosecutors are consulting with statistical experts and other witnesses who might be used in other Racial Justice Act cases across North Carolina. Giving other prosecutors a chance to hear those experts in a one-day session saves money, O'Neill said.

He declined to comment on specifics of the training because it deals with pending litigation, but he said in general that the Racial Justice Act has resulted in expensive legal actions.

"This training session is my attempt to save at least some money for the taxpayers," he said.

Prosecutors have described the act as a backhanded attempt to end the death penalty. They have also said the law would clog the court system. More than 95 percent of the people on death row have filed under the act.

Robinson and co-defendant Roderick Williams Jr. were convicted of murdering 17-year-old Erik Tornblom after the teen gave his killers a ride from a Fayetteville convenience store in 1991. Tornblom was forced to drive to a field, where he was shot with a sawed-off shotgun.

Robinson came close to death in January 2007, but a judge blocked his scheduled execution. Williams is serving a life sentence.

Tye Hunter, executive director of the Center for Death Penalty Litigation in Durham and one of Robinson's attorneys, said he has no problem with prosecutors having a training session but hopes they also deal with the racial disparities the Cumberland judge said are inherent in the death penalty.

"I think what Judge Weeks said in his order was that he hoped this would be an opportunity for prosecutors to look at what they had done in the past and avoid making the same mistakes in the future," he said.







New changes to the anti-Racial Justice Act

Submitted by cjarvis on 2012-06-08 13:53

The new Republican run at changing the Racial Justice Act will be taken up in a House judiciary committee Monday and then, if approved, to the floor that night for a vote.

The authors are continuing to operate on the bill, SB416, and have made a couple changes that address concerns raised in the committee earlier in the week.

One, defendants would be given a window of opportunity to attempt to prove bias in their case from 10 years before the offense to two years after being sentenced. The current bill reached back only two years before the offense.

Democratic lawmakers had expressed concern that a prosecutor with a long history of biased prosecutions wouldn't be held accountable if the window was restricted to that two-year period.

Secondly, defendants can try to prove that race was a significant factor in jury selection, when a prosecutor exercises peremptory strikes. The current bill only refers to proving that the race of the defendant was a significant factor.

The authors have also thrown in entirely new language removing judges' ability to declare cases as non-capital cases based on prosecutors' failure to turn over evidence, or prosecutors' failure to hold a timely hearing on whether a case should be tried as a death-penalty case.

Another new section would take approval of the protocols for carrying out executions out of the hands of the governor and Council of State.

What the GOP and prosecutors are trying to do with the new bill is make each death-penalty case about individual defendants, and not about widespread statistical evidence of bias in North Carolina. In 2009, the Democratic-controlled Legislature enacted the Racial Justice Act, which said racial bias in prosecution and sentencing could be used to turn death sentences into sentences of life in prison without parole.

Democrats and death penalty opponents say this new legislation is an attempt to repeal the Racial Justice Act, similiar to a bill last year that the governor vetoed and that the House could not override.

Read more here:

I"ve got my fingers AND toes crossed....   ;)


Yay for the return of the Blue Cooler Dope!  Good to see you back man.  These changes sound good to me.  All cases should be about the defendant and not general racism in a state.  I hope it goes through.

"How come life in prison doesn't mean life? Until it does, we're not ready to do away with the death penalty. Stop thinking in terms of "punishment" for a minute and think in terms of safeguarding innocent people from incorrigible murderers."

JESSE VENTURA, I Ain't Got Time to Bleed


Welcome back Blue Cooler.
Bombs do not choose. They will hit everything   ... Nikita Khrushchev

I once said, "We will bury you," and I got into trouble with it. Of course we will not bury you with a shovel. Your own working class will bury you.  ... Nikita Khrushchev

Grinning Grim Reaper

Perdue Vetoes RJA Fix

June 29, 2012 8:45 AM | Posted by Kent Scheidegger

As expected, North Carolina Governor Bev Perdue has vetoed the bill to repair the badly misnamed Racial Justice Act, the law that allows murderers to escape justice with statistics that don't actually prove anything.  Craig Jarvis and John Frank have this story in the Charlotte Observer.  A veto override hangs by a thread.

Perdue vetoes rewrite of Racial Justice Act

By Craig Jarvis and John Frank

Posted: Friday, Jun. 29, 2012

Gov. Bev Perdue on Thursday vetoed the bill that would have undermined the Racial Justice Act, the 2009 law that allows death-row inmates to try to convert their sentences to life in prison without parole by using statistical proof of racial bias in their trials.

"As long as I am governor, I will fight to make sure the death penalty stays on the books in North Carolina," Perdue said in a statement released late in the afternoon. "But it has to be carried out fairly - free of prejudice."

Republicans have portrayed the bill as a fix to the Racial Justice Act, but in fact it severely restricts the use of statistics, rendering them useless in most cases. Democrats call it an outright repeal of the law.

This bill was the General Assembly's second attempt to get rid of the Racial Justice Act, which the state's prosecutors vehemently oppose. Last year Perdue vetoed the earlier bill. The Senate overrode the veto, and has the votes to do it again last year, but the House couldn't muster the three-fifths majority needed.

This time, however, the House passed the bill 73-47. It needs only 72 votes to reach the three-fifths needed to override a veto if all members are present.

As with several bills last year, five conservative Democrats broke ranks with their party. But one of them, Rep. Tim Spear of Creswell, has been absent because of family health issues. That means if all members of the House are present, all four of the renegade Democrats would have to vote with Republicans to override the veto.

Rep. Bill Owens, a Democrat from Elizabeth City, said Thursday after the session that he would likely vote to override. "We came up with a fair compromise," he said of this year's bill.

Owens said he supports capital punishment, and the true purpose of the Racial Justice Act was to bring executions to a halt.

Another member of the Democratic "gang of five," Rep. Jim Crawford of Oxford, wouldn't say how he will vote.

This is Perdue's 17th veto. Eight of them have been overridden by the Legislature.

Perdue in her veto message said the Racial Justice Act was a historic piece of legislation that received national praise. She called it "a positive and long overdue step to make sure racism does not infect the way the death penalty is administered.

"Last year, Republicans in the General Assembly tried - and failed - to take North Carolina backwards by passing a bill that would have undone the Racial Justice Act," she said. "This year's Senate Bill 416 is not a 'compromise bill'; it guts the Racial Justice Act and renders it meaningless."

In a joint statement, Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger and House Speaker Thom Tillis said:

"While Gov. Perdue may claim to support the death penalty, her veto proves she's in lock-step with the leftist elements of her party who want to abolish it. She has a duty to uphold public safety and preserve justice for the families of victims murdered in the most heinous crimes."

They promised to work with Democrats to override.

Perdue's veto was praised by Murder Victims' Families for Reconciliation and the N.C. NAACP.

In a statement, Murder Victims' Families for Reconciliation said, "We call on members of the N.C. General Assembly to demonstrate the same principled leadership and commitment to justice for all citizens regardless of race by upholding the governor's veto."

Read more here:

Perdue:  Politician to the end.
Vengence is mine saith the Lord...who are we to question the instruments used to carry it out?

Grinning Grim Reaper

NC Senate OKs override of death penalty bill veto

The Associated Press

Published: Monday, July 2, 2012 at 12:42 p.m. Last Modified: Monday, July 2, 2012 at 12:42 p.m.

RALEIGH, N.C. - The North Carolina Senate has voted to cancel Gov. Beverly Perdue's veto of a bill that rolled back a state law giving death row prisoners a method to seek a reduced sentence because of racial bias.

Senators voted Monday to override Perdue's veto last week of changes in the 2009 Racial Justice Act. The 31-11 vote was well above the 60 percent required. The House still must vote to override before the new bill becomes law.

The Racial Justice Act directs judges to reduce a sentence to life in prison if they find race was a significant factor in a convicted murderer receiving a death sentence or in the composition of jurors hearing a case.

Many district attorneys and Republicans said the original law went too far.

Here's what the Senate has for you Perdue... :D :D :D :D :D
Vengence is mine saith the Lord...who are we to question the instruments used to carry it out?

Grinning Grim Reaper

North Carolina Legislature Overrides Racial Justice Act Veto:

Jake Seaton of reports the North Carolina state Legislature on Monday voted in favor of overriding Governor Perdue's veto of changes to the Racial Justice Act. The new law limits how statistics can be used by death penalty defendants trying to prove racial bias was a factor in their case. "The House override vote was 72-48 - exactly [the required] 60 percent majority."

This is how the vote hit 72 according to Robbie Cooper at Urbangrounds:

Idiot of the Day Award: NC State Rep Becky Carney (D)

Posted by Robbie Cooper at 12:24 pm
Jul 03, 2012

Rep Becky Carney -- too stupid to know the difference between the green button and the red button?

The Idiot of the Day Award (from heretofore known as the Joe Biden Award™) is hereby given to Democrat North Carolina Rep. Becky Carney, who accidentally voted to override a Veto vote from Democrat Governor Beverly Perdue on a fracking bill:

A veto by North Carolina's Democratic governor was overridden Monday night because a Democrat in the state House cast the deciding vote, by accident.

The lawmaker, Becky Carney, accidentally pushed a green button at her desk voting for the override, instead of a different button. Under state rules, legislators can change their votes if they make a mistake, but only if the changed vote wouldn't affect the result.

In Carney's case, she was the 72nd person to vote for the override, the exact number needed to do so.

After the moron pushed the wrong button (how hard can it be to press the correct button on a vote -- it's pretty much the only requirement there is to do your job: being able to vote the way your handlers tell you to vote?), she was overheard on her microphone (because it's a microphone) uttering, ""Oh, my gosh. I pushed green."

Stupid bitch (paraphrasing Gov. Perdue's reaction).

;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D
Vengence is mine saith the Lord...who are we to question the instruments used to carry it out?

Angelstorms OL'Man

 ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D  So  Looks like she is a Pro DP person id only for :10 sec..
This was designed to hurt....Its a SEAL Candace unless you have been there yo will never understand...

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