CH Mayor Kleinschmidt Says Racial Justice Act Is Essential To Fair Trials
Additional reporting by Rachel Nash
CHAPEL HILL – Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt says the North Carolina justice system will suffer now that state General Assembly has officially repealed the controversial Racial Justice Act.
Kleinschmidt— who’s worked as an attorney in death penalty litigation— says he’s especially disappointed because after the Act first became law, statistical data proved that it was necessary to maintain fairness.
“One of the things that I think is most disturbing is the kind of racial bias that was discovered in the studies that followed the passage of the bill. The bill itself allowed investigation into how prosecutors in North Carolina used race to determining the make-up of juries,” Kleinschmidt explained.
On Wednesday, the state House of Representatives gave final approval to repeal the Act by a vote of 77-39. The Act had been in place since 2009 to allow North Carolina death row convicts to make appeals based on racial biases.
Kleinschmidt says the decision doesn’t just affect those who are on death row.
“The goes right into not only the people who are charged but people who are being asked to serve their state as jurors and very disturbing evidence of a pattern of prosecutors dismissing jurors who are otherwise qualified to serve just because of their race. I think every North Carolina who seeks to serve should be distressed by this,” he said.
The state hasn’t carried out an execution since 2006 because of various legal appeals.
The bill will go to the state senate for a final vote of agreement, before moving to the desk of Republican Gov. Pat McCrory, who is expected to sign the repeal bill.
The senate passed an initial version of the bill back in April.