Racial Justice Act Hearing Begins Today

Jan 30, 2012

The state's first Racial Justice Act hearing will get underway today in Cumberland County.

Jessica Jones: Judge Gregory Weeks will preside over the hearing. It's expected to last as long as two weeks. Attorneys for death row inmate Marcus Robinson will present evidence that racial bias was a factor in jury selection in his case. A high number of qualified black jurors were removed from serving on Robinson's jury. He was convicted of murdering Erik Tornblom in 1994. The hearing comes not long after district attorneys across the state almost succeeded in derailing it. They lobbied state lawmakers to pass a law that would repeal the Racial Justice Act, passed in 2009. The law allows death row inmates to appeal their sentences based on racial bias playing a role in their cases. Lawmakers passed the repeal measure, but Governor Perdue vetoed it in December. North Carolina is one of two states in the country that has a Racial Justice Act.