District Attorneys from across North Carolina testified in favor of repealing the Racial Justice Act Wednesday.
Seth Edwards, who heads up the North Carolina Conference of District Attorneys, told a House Judiciary committee that enough safeguards already exist to prevent discriminatory convictions. When Edwards suggested that race does not play a role in capital murder case for prosecutors, several members in the room laughed at the assertion.
Forsyth County DA Jim O’Neill said in his district several white inmates convicted of killing white victims were now trying to use the Racial Justice Act to have their cases overturned.
Rep. Angela Bryant told the panel that really didn’t matter, the legal issue was “the state’s actions with a discriminatory purpose” in seeking the death penalty in those cases.
Tye Hunter with the Center for Death Penalty Litigation reminded legislators that even the fiscal note said there would be no savings should they decide to repeal the 2009 law.
Finally, Senator Floyd McKissick, one of the primary sponsors of the original legislation in the Senate, told his colleagues:
“Unfortunately in this society, we haven’t reached the point where we are colorblind….but until we get there, we don’t need to be considering repealing the Racial Justice Act.”