Act Test

February 12, 2011 by staff 

Act Test, Last fall, our own Nathan Koppel wrote this piece on a 2009 budget law in North Carolina that has allowed death row inmates to challenge their convictions by showing that the convictions were tainted by racial prejudice. As Koppel wrote, the law has been controversial, and likely to be challenged in court. Well, the law – called the Racial Justice Act – has survived its first serious challenge. On Thursday, a judge in Forsyth County prosecutors rejected arguments that the law was too broad and failed to comply with the Constitution in North Carolina. Click here for the history of the News & Observer.

Two North Carolina death row, Duke Errol Moses and Carl Stephen Moseley, use statistics and results of a study conducted at Michigan State University to claim racial imbalance and bias played a role in their trial and sentencing.

Their cases are the first of the 154 death row inmates seeking redress under the law to get to a courtroom.

According to the News & Observer story, prosecutors in the case earlier this week attacked the law, saying it was too broad to be applied equitably across the state.

For example, an assistant district attorney argued that the law does not specify exactly how the race should be considered in assessing allegations of bias. He disputed the fact that one of the two accused, Moseley, a white inmate convicted of killing white victims, was drawn from racial bias played a role in determining his sentence.


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