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By Sarah Bufkin:
Acceding to the demands of state prosecutors, the North Carolina Senate passed a bill Monday by a 27-14 vote that will effectively repeal the Racial Justice Act, jeopardizing what had been heralded as a step forward for the criminal justice system. The act, which a coalition effort passed in a Democrat-controlled legislature back in 2009, allows death row inmates to appeal on the grounds that racism played an operative role in their sentencing. The first defendant to make a case under the act, Marcus Robinson, will present his evidence in January.
For Professor James Coleman, Jr., who runs the Duke Law Center for Criminal Justice and Professional Responsibility, Monday’s repeal effort is just the latest attempt by state prosecutors to overturn a law that they think poses a threat to their offices.