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January 5, 2012

North Carolina legislature creates committee to study state's Racial Justice Act while considering veto override

As detailed in this local North Carolina article, which is headlined "Racial Act on Hold, Lawmakers Override Other Veto," the long-running debate over North Carolina's Racial Justice Act took another interesting turn in the state's legislature.  Here are details from this news report:

The state House adjourned in the early morning hours Thursday unable to override the veto of the Racial Justice Act, but that did not stop them from overriding another governor veto.  Around 1 a.m., the Legislature overrode Gov. Beverly Perdue's veto of a bill that would eliminate the ability of the state's largest teaching group to have voluntary membership dues deducted directly from teachers' paychecks.

The override capped a long day and night at the Legislative Building for a special session called by Perdue for lawmakers to consider her veto that blocked a bill that would eliminate key provisions of the 2009 Racial Justice Act.  The Senate overrode that veto, but the House didn't, deciding instead to form a committee to study issues about the death penalty and racial bias....

Perdue condemned GOP leaders for taking up other legislation when she called the session only to consider the changes to dismantle the Racial Justice Act law.   Republicans "didn't have the votes to get what they wanted legally.  So, in the dark of night, they engaged in an unprecedented, unconstitutional power grab," Perdue said in a prepared statement after the vote.  "I am saddened for the people of North Carolina that the Republicans abused their power and chose this destructive path."

As for The Racial Justice Act that Republicans were originally scheduled to debate and try to override, they say they might not have had the votes, but they are not finished with the issue.   "Now we've established a committee to look at specific issues and see if we can resolve what I think are very valid and profound concerns that the DA has expressed, that DAs across the state have expressed about the Racial Justice Act," House Speaker Thom Tillis said.

The special committee will look at racial discrimination and how the death penalty is carried out.  However, past that Republicans say the Racial Justice Act isn't likely to come up again soon.

Though it is hard to be certain what could come next on this matter, the NC House's decision to create a "special committee" to look at "racial discrimination and how the death penalty is carried out" may end up being the very best possible resolution for murder defendants sitting on North Carolina's death row and hoping to avoid execution.  I would expect that this "special committee" may take many months, if not many years, to complete its study of these matters and in the meantime the Racial Justice Act remains the law in North Carolina and litigation under the act probably remain in suspended development.

In part because of lethal injection litigation and now in part because of RJA litigation, there has not been an execution in North Carolina in the past five years.  With the RJA (barely) surviving this latest legislative reform effort through the creation of a study committee, I would be somewhat surprised if the state is able to move forward on any (non-volunteer) execution in the next five years.

January 5, 2012 at 01:05 PM | Permalink

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Comments

“In part because of lethal injection litigation and now in part because of RJA litigation, there has not been an execution in North Carolina in the past five years.”—Doug B.

Is this not their *noble* goal to be achieved ‘by hook or by crook’? The end is justified by all means necessary?

From Robert Stewart’s lawyers (NC) to William Thompson’s counsellors (FL), such is the degenerate modus of abolitionists.
The constant mantra of Machiavelli and Malcolm X, as Trotsky relativistically surmises:

“The end may justify the means as long as there is something that justifies the end.”

Posted by: Adamakis | Jan 6, 2012 9:01:47 AM

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