In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court finding that North Carolina legislative voting districts were intentionally designed to segregate black voters into two districts, four men living on North Carolina's death row are filing appeals to the N.C. Supreme Court that qualified black jurors were systematically excluded from serving on the juries on their trials.
Former long-serving public defender James E. Williams Jr. writes in the Raleigh News & Observer, "the courts have ignored the evidence and seized on legal technicalities to keep the defendants on death row."
Proof that district attorneys attended training sessions that taught them how to get away with illegally excluding qualified black jurors.
Handwritten notes describing black jurors with terms like “thug” and “blk wino.”
A comprehensive peer-reviewed study showing that, over two decades, the odds of a qualified black juror being struck by prosecutors was more than twice that of a white juror.
In this week’s filings, the defendants have also unearthed new evidence, which shows that race was even a factor in prosecutor discussions regarding suitable judges to hear the case. Emails between N.C. prosecutors reveal that, before the Racial Justice Act hearings in 2012, they discussed strategies to avoid having a black judge hear the cases.