Commentary, News

Bipartisan legal commission: Legislature is threatening independence of state judiciary

This is just out from the good people at the North Carolina Commission on Racial and Ethnic Disparities in the Criminal Justice System:

Bipartisan commission on racial disparities calls for thoughtful deliberation on judicial redistricting

Last week, a bipartisan group of North Carolina prosecutors, law enforcement, judges, defense attorneys, advocates, and academics released a resolution calling on the NC General Assembly to slow their attempts to significantly alter North Carolina’s judicial system. The resolution further recommends the legislature ensure input from North Carolinians who have a stake in impartial justice.

The North Carolina Commission on Racial and Ethnic Disparities in the Criminal Justice System (NC-CRED) believes the legislature’s current actions could diminish the independence of the judiciary and erode its racial, ethnic, and gender diversity.

“If we truly believe in equal justice under the law, we must thoughtfully study the real-world impacts of these potential changes to our judiciary,” said NC-CRED Commission Member and Duke Law Professor James E. Coleman. “The legislature is making changes to the court system that could affect our state for generations. It is essential that we scrutinize these possible changes, and ensure they do not erode bedrocks of our democracy such as an independent judiciary that is representative of its participants.”

NC-CRED is calling on the NCGA to suspend its efforts to drastically redesign the judiciary, to appoint a study committee that includes all interested parties, and to publish the findings before going forward with such substantial changes to our legal system.

Click here to read the full resolution.

NC-CRED was established in 2012 to research and remedy bias that leads to the over-representation of African-Americans and Latinos in North Carolina’s criminal and juvenile justice systems. The commission is comprised of judges, police chiefs, district attorneys, defense attorneys and public defenders, policy makers, advocates, and academics from across North Carolina.

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