Tuesday, April 24, 2012

North Carolina death penalty case vacated via racial prejudice

The San Francisco Chronicle last Saturday reported North Carolina Superior Court Judge Gregory Weeks' vacating the death penalty of convicted murderer Marcus Reymond Robinson, in a landmark ruling there, saying prosecutors across the state had engaged for years in a deliberate and systematic pattern of racial discrimination while striking black potential jurors in death penalty cases.

Weeks, in a 167-page order harshly critical of prosecutors, said they had "intentionally used the race of (jury pool) members as a significant factor in decisions to exercise peremptory strikes in capital cases," and that discrimination was a factor not only in the case Weeks heard involving convicted murderer Marcus Reymond Robinson, who is black, but also in capital cases involving black defendants across North Carolina.

The ruling, according to the Chronicle, was the first under North Carolina's Racial Justice Act, passed in 2009, which allows judges to reduce death sentences to life in prison without parole in cases where defendants prove racial bias in jury selection. Prosecutors have 60 days to appeal .

The University of Pittsburgh's Jurist added, "The decision to transform Robinson's death sentence because of racial bias is expected to have a great impact on capital punishment discussions nationwide. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) released a statement expressing its approval of the North Carolina decision and hope that the United States is moving in a direction towards abolishing the death penalty. The statement also notes the significance of Weeks' decision coming almost exactly 25 years after the Supreme Court ruled that ‘evidence of systemic bias is not sufficient to challenge a death sentence’ in the case of McCleskey v. Kemp."

The New York Times, CNN, and MSNBC also had articles.

1 comment:

JayChong said...

I think the proponents of the "racial justice act" chose the wrong test case to apply this new law. Saving a man who even the judge believes is guilty of kidnapping and murdering a teenager is politically incompetent. http://lawblog.legalmatch.com/2012/05/07/judge-reduces-penalty-death-row-inmate-racial-justice-act/