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The good folks at the Center for Death Penalty Litigation released the following explanation of today’s Racial Justice Act ruling in Cumberland County

April 20, 2012 Ruling on Lead NC Racial Justice Act Case 

  • The lead case applying the historic and ground-breaking NC Racial Justice Act (RJA) concluded today with a judicial finding of race discrimination in the operation of the death penalty in North Carolina.
  • North Carolina Superior Court Judge Gregory Weeks found that prosecutors deliberately excluded qualified black jurors from jury service in death row inmate Marcus Robinson’s case, in Cumberland County, and throughout the state.
  • As directed by the law, Read More

Some good folks at Duke Law School are hosting the inaugural “North Carolina Law and Policy Symposium” tomorrow and Friday.

The event is entitled: “Realizing Criminal Justice Reform Together.” The symposium focuses on pressing criminal justice topics such as preventing and rectifying wrongful convictions, reintegration and the pardons system, the “school-to prison pipeline,” post-conviction reforms, and effective legislative advocacy techniques.  Rev. William Barber of the North Carolina NAACP will deliver the keynote address on Friday at 12:30.

The event commences Thursday evening and runs through Friday afternoon. It’s free and open to the public but an RSVP is appreciated. 

Click here for more information. Even if you can only be there for a session or two, it looks like a great event.  

 

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One of the chief distinguishing characteristics of the curent legislative leadership is the hyper-cynical, “ends-justify-the-means” brand of politics it practices. Whether it’s Speaker Thom Tillis’ public admission of his “divide and conquer” strategy or last month’s “midnight madness” session, the current legislative leadership will do and say pretty much whatever it takes to get its way.

Rep. Ray Rapp of Buncombe County reported at a forum in Asheville last night that he had counted 35 instances this past year in which the House Republican leadership had “called the question” (i.e. shut off debate) on the House floor. This is compared, he said, to seven times that Democrats in the House had taken such a step in the previous four years.

Given this backdrop, it’s no surprise that conservative leaders (and the assistants acting in their names) would feel free to turn their Twitter accounts into fonts of false propaganda. Who would bother to call them on it – right?

Fortunately, while most of the misleading tweets do go unchallenged, Raleigh’s News & Observer provided an important public service this morning by challenging one particularly noxious and dishonest tweet from the office of State Senate president Pro Tem, Phil Berger on the subject of the Racial Justice Act.

Click here to read this excellent editorial.

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The committee he’s appointed is stacked with Racial Justice Act opponents, but it appears that House Speaker Thom Tillis has backed down slightly from his usual m.o. (i.e. “my way or the highway”).

Next Friday, in the aftermath of Tillis’ failed efforts to repeal RJA, the newly established House Select Committee on Racial Discrimination in Capital Cases will meet at the Legislative Building in Raleigh to discuss the matter.

Though it has often not been the case with the conservatives running the General Assembly (see, for example, the kangaroo sessions in which the marriage discrimination amendment was rammed through), let’s hope there’s an actual full and fair hearing.

Perhaps if there is, RJA opponents will be able to explain to all of us exactly just what the great harm is that’s resulting from examinations of compelling data like this one.

…read the Charlotte Observer editorial on the legislative secret session

Here’s the excellent conclusion:

“‘The whole affair should be “a learning experience,’ Tillis said.

It’s a learning experience, all right. The voters of North Carolina have learned a lot about how underhanded this particular crop of legislative leaders can be, and that they scoff at the notion of transparency.”