D.A.'s, Victims Family Members: Change Racial Justice Act

Family members of murder victims took a stand alongside district attorney's from throughout our state Monday afternoon calling for the repeal of the Racial Justice Act..

District attorney's --including Eastern Carolina D.A.'s Seth Edwards and Scott Thomas -- and victim family members, made their thoughts known about the controversial Racial Justice Act that allows death row inmates to use statistics to argue racial bias played a role in their conviction.

Johnston County District Attorney Susan Doyle says, "Opponents say that we are fearful and we are concerned about the results of the Racial Justice Act filings. They are correct. We are very fearful. We are fearful for the unintended consequences that may happen as a result of the Racial Justice Act as it is currently written."

Attorneys hope to see the law amended so that decisions about the death penalty are made based on the facts and law of a particular case, not based on some generalized statewide statistics.

Seth Edwards, D.A. in Beaufort, Martin, Hyde, Tyrrell, and Washington Counties says, "If racial bias can be shown in any case then that needs to be looked at and it needs to be corrected--but the law in its current form allows for a person to file a claim based on statistics for example in the mountains of North Carolina when the case happened in the eastern part of North Carolina."

Scott Thomas, DA in Carteret, Craven, and Pamlico Counties says, "In its current form, generalized statewide statistics can be used to vacate every death sentence in North Carolina. We believe that death penalty decisions should be based upon the facts and the law of a particular case not on generalized unreliable statewide statistics."

Tye Hunter with the Center for Death Penalty Litigation said prosecutors are trying to circumvent the court system by going to the legislature to undo a law they don't like.

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