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Lawmakers override veto of Racial Justice Act overhaul

Posted July 2, 2012

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— State lawmakers voted Monday to override Gov. Beverly Perdue's veto of a bill that overhauls the landmark Racial Justice Act.

About 90 minutes after the Senate voted 31-11 to override Perdue's veto, the House followed suit with a 72-48 vote. The measure now becomes law.

The original version of the 2009 law allowed defendants to challenge their death sentence based on statistical data. Now, statistical data alone is no longer enough to convert sentences to life in prison, and defendants would have to show details particular to their case in order to be successful.

"It's time to go froward with real justice," House Majority Leader Paul Stam said, adding that justice "is about individuals, not groups."

Opponents of the revision, mainly Democrats, say that the changes gut the landmark bill, but backers say the law has been abused.

“What we’re doing today is turning our back on the only sensible remedy that has been devised for racism in court as it relates to the death penalty, and I think that’s a sad thing for us to do in North Carolina," House Minority Leader Joe Hackney said.

"We’re supposed to be progressing, rather than regressing," said Rep. Larry Womble, D-Forsyth. "We can still kill people if we want to kill them. It does not get rid of the death penalty. These people (who are successful in a Racial Justice Act appeal) will not walk the streets. They will not be your neighbors. They will not walk beside you. They will be incarcerated for life."

"This is nothing but a backdoor attempt, as we all know, to get rid of the death penalty," said Sen. Thom Goolsby, R-New Hanover.

Judges and prosecutors could be trusted, Goolsby said. "Who I don't trust are statisticians," he said.

Lawmakers override one veto, others in question Lawmakers override state budget veto

The Senate also voted 29-13 to override Perdue's veto of a bill that would allow natural gas drilling in North Carolina. The House hasn't yet taken up the veto.

Perdue, a Democrat, vetoed the bill Sunday. The legislation would begin the process of opening the state to natural gas exploration, including the controversial method known as hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking.". 

"This bill does not do enough to ensure that adequate protections for our drinking water, landowners, county and municipal governments, and the health and safety of our families will be in place before fracking begins," Perdue said in her veto message.

Sen. Bob Rucho, R-Mecklenburg, told members that the environmental protections in the bill would avoid any ill effects from the horizontal drilling and fracturing processes.

But opponents said the bill would leave landowners vulnerable to abuses by energy companies.

Sen. Martin Nesbitt, D-Buncombe, said one part of the measure would allow gas drillers to force some landowners to sell their mineral rights. 

"You're going to find that people don't like being told their land can be taken without due process," Nesbitt said.

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  • dollibug Jul 3, 3:11 p.m.

    ++++Wouldn't we be better off just to retire this woman and send her on home!!!? Very useless!

    both she and o need to GO....

  • Tcheuchter Jul 3, 2:16 p.m.

    "It is definitely time for a change! The country is in a dire situation and getting worse! Lets start by making NC better :)"

    Yep, lets vote out these GOP time wasters!

  • Tcheuchter Jul 3, 2:15 p.m.

    "Good news. Statistics can easily be misused."

    And they are also very useful, they are just math afterall....curious that you would assume the worst

  • xxxxxxxxxxxxx Jul 3, 2:00 p.m.

    "Purdue has taken advantage of her veto powers. As Governor she should be working with the majority (without regard for partisanship), but she seems to have her own agenda."

    So you're saying that all politicians should just subscribe to mob mentality, go with the flow and not stand up for their principles? Don't we have enough of that in state and federal government these days? Don't we want people to think for themselves, even if we don't agree with them?

  • loveapex Jul 3, 1:10 p.m.

    dollibug- I agree with you completely. Corruption is disgusting and the justice systems quest to convict at any cost is scary. At times, it appears that the truth is irrelevant.

    crouch1010- you make many assumptions about people. Some of us just value life. Most importantly, the innocent. The innocent victims of crimes and the innocent unborn. That does not make me an automatic supporter of the death penalty nor an opponent. There are flaws in our system and they must be remedied. Innocent men must never be executed.

  • dollibug Jul 3, 12:36 p.m.

    ++++Simple questions, is it the duty of the state to convict a guilty person or is it the duty of the state to convict an innocent person?

    Actually it is the DUTY OF THE STATE TO SEEK TRUTH....and provide JUSTICE....with so much CORRUPTION AND COVER UP...and no one overseeing what is going on with our Judicial Systems and law enforcement agencies....somehow what is FAIR AND JUST....disappeared....it seems like those in charge....just do whatever it takes to get a conviction and close the case....no matter what it takes....this is how INNOCENT PEOPLE are indicted, tried and convicted....and those who are responsible are not ever held accountable for what they have done....everyone should have a job like this....so there is NO NEED to ever fear losing one's job....sure you can report issues to the state bar....they only cover each other's back....it is just a network of the good ole boys and girls system....who can get by with anything these days. This is the AMERICAN WAY.

  • crouch1010 Jul 3, 12:24 p.m.

    Simple questions, is it the duty of the state to convict a guilty person or is it the duty of the state to convict an innocent person? Is it the duty of the state to convict anyone just to appease the family members of the victim? Some law maker stated this law was a back door to stop the death penalty. Well let's shred that intelligent statement. This law was separate of the death penalty other than the defendant's that could prove a history of racial bias. For over 200 years in the US politicians have gotten away with abnormal thinking trapping people to thinking abnormal is normal. If you are pro-death penalty, then the last statement you will likely make is that you willing to execute anyone, guilty or not. These same people spend time and waste breath on saving fetuses and calling abortion murder but don't want to verify that an already known human flaw is not at play for a potential wrongful conviction of an adult. This level of leadership is an absolute sick joke.

  • readme Jul 3, 11:47 a.m.

    Good news. Statistics can easily be misused.

  • dollibug Jul 3, 11:44 a.m.

    +++"It's time to go froward with real justice," House Majority Leader Paul Stam said, adding that justice "is about individuals, not groups."

    Real justice should start with investigations and the GRAND JURY...there is a lot going on in the NC Judicial Systems that need to be addressed...yes, I do agree with the statement which
    Stam quoted....except I think the word is *FORWARD with real justice*....but then what exactly is considered *real justice*....does anyone even know?????????? NC has a lot of ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT in our Judicial System and what takes place...just hoping that the NC GENERAL ASSEMBLY members can *improve the procedures to that we can move forward with REAL JUSTICE*

  • allowry Jul 3, 11:09 a.m.

    ss3510...You seem to be educated. You need to read all the history about slavery before you can talk about the South and how all the NC republican are a shamful bunch.

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