death penalty

NC's Death Row a legacy of past mistakes

And every single one of these cases needs a thorough review:

With 142 inmates waiting to die, North Carolina has the sixth largest death row in the country. But a report released Tuesday says most of the prisoners would not be awaiting execution if their cases were investigated and tried today.

In “Unequal Justice: How obsolete laws and unfair trial created North Carolina’s outsized Death Row,” the Center for Death Row Litigation in Durham says the state’s death row is stuck in time while the views of capital punishment continue to evolve. “They are prisoners of a state that has moved on, but refuses to reckon with its past,” the report says. “Today, the death penalty is seen as a tool to be used sparingly. Instead of a bludgeon to be wielded in virtually every first-degree murder case.”

With all the political issues confronting us these days, people might be prone to back-burner this one based on two flawed assumptions: 1) They are in no danger of being executed due to the de facto moratorium, or 2) They would still be incarcerated somewhere else anyway. As to that first thing, the term "de facto" should be enough to demonstrate that fallacy. New technology and/or a shift in opinion could get the execution machine rolling again. As far as the second assumption is concerned, these factors definitely come into play:

The Southern tradition of kicking blacks off juries

Chief Justice Roberts calls bs, vacates Georgia death sentence:

The Supreme Court ruled on Monday that prosecutors in Georgia violated the Constitution by striking every black prospective juror in a death penalty case against a black defendant. The vote was 7 to 1, with Justice Clarence Thomas dissenting.

In notes that did not surface until decades later, prosecutors marked the names of black prospective jurors with a B and highlighted those names in green. They circled the word “black” where potential jurors had noted their race on questionnaires. After Mr. Foster was convicted, Stephen Lanier, the lead prosecutor, urged the all-white jury to impose a death sentence to “deter other people out there in the projects.” The jury did so.

First of all, what the fracking frack? Second of all, Clarence Thomas is not just an idiot, his hatred for his own race has made him delusional:

N.C. prosecutor who sent 5 to death row: It’s time to end death penalty

Twenty five years ago, as an assistant district attorney in Forsyth County, Vince Rabil helped put Blanche Taylor Moore on death row. Today, Rabil says it is time to end the death penalty and calls Moore — a frail 82-year-old still sitting on death row — “a living monument to the failure of a vanishing legal remedy.”

Secret Executions - What does NC have to hide?

The next “right thing” for McCrory: Halt executions

Ten months after a judge declared them innocent, Gov. Pat McCrory has acknowledged what we already knew — Henry McCollum and Leon Brown are innocent of the crime for which they were sentenced to death.

McCrory said the pardon was “the right thing to do.” Now, we hope he will do the next right thing: Think about how many other innocent people might still be sitting on death row.

“We must reexamine a system that let an innocent man sit on death row for 30 years,” said Ken Rose, the CDPL attorney who represented McCollum for two decades. “How many more innocent people are still awaiting execution? The governor can and should call an official halt to executions in North Carolina until we know the answer to that question.”

We hope the Governor will let their pardon be a call to action, rather than simply the end to a tragic case. NC needs an official moratorium on executions in order to ensure we do not execute an innocent person.

NC needs to take note: Conservative Nebraska repeals death penalty

When conservative lawmakers in red state Nebraska recognize the death penalty has no place in modern society, the writing is on the wall - capital punishment is on borrowed time.

As today's editorial in the Charlotte Observer notes, Nebraska is arguably more conservative than Texas - and certainly more red than North Carolina.

Nebraska poised to be next state to walk away from the death penalty

You know the death penalty is on its last gasp when one of the most heavily Republican states in the nation votes to repeal it.

That's what happened this week in Nebraska a the unicameral legislature voted 32-15 to abandon the death penalty in the state.

Legislative committees scrambling to meet crossover

So many ways to punish people, so little time:

EXECUTIONS: The House Judiciary I Committee takes up a bill at 3 p.m. that would clear the way for executions to go forward without a doctor directly overseeing the lethal injection.

DEBTS: The House Banking Committee meets at 4 p.m. and will take up a bill to make it easier for debt collectors to sue for judgments against people who may or may not owe money.

Only in the minds of Republicans would multiple exonerated death row cases and revelations about systemic misuse of tainted hair and fiber evidence lead to the conclusion we need to "hurry up" and execute these people. And apparently their much-vaunted "tort reform" is only meant for bottom-up cases, not for corporations trying to squeeze the last drop of blood out of struggling families.

Reasonable doubt: N.C. says 900 convictions based on bad evidence

Last week, the FBI admitted it had overstated the reliability of hair analysis in virtually every case where hair evidence was presented, including 36 cases where defendants were sentenced to death.

Buried in a Charlotte Observer editorial was a surprising admission: the NC Center on Actual Innocence is reexamining 900 convictions in which the State Bureau of Investigation may have used improper forensic evidence.

7 months after exoneration, Henry McCollum still awaits pardon...

We would like to think that Henry McCollum and Leon Brown are unique. Surely, it is unusual for blameless men to be sentenced to death and imprisoned for 30 years, despite shockingly weak evidence.

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