State News

Judge: NC's racial bias law is constitutional

Posted February 10, 2011

— A judge ruled Thursday to uphold North Carolina's law allowing death row inmates to appeal their sentences based on claims of racial bias.

Forsyth County Superior Court Judge William Wood rejected arguments from prosecutors that the 2009 law was too vague, according to attorney Ken Rose, who represents one of two men whose cases were at issue before the judge.

The case stemmed from racial bias challenges filed by death row inmates Errol Moses and Carl Moseley. Moses, who is black, was convicted of killing two black men while Moseley, who is white, was convicted of killing two white women.

Prosecutors say most of North Carolina's 158 death row inmates are trying to use the law to overturn their sentences, including what they contend are absurd challenges from white inmates convicted of killing white victims.

The Forsyth County case was the first, and so far only, legal challenge to the law. The proceedings were closely followed around the state, with some prosecutors from other districts attending court sessions in Winston-Salem this week to listen to arguments in the case.

Rose said Wood's ruling bolsters what attorneys for the inmates have argued all along. "It's very significant," he said.

Tye Hunter, executive director of the Durham-based Center for Death Penalty Litigation, which has coordinated efforts to file cases on behalf of inmates under the new law, said Thursday the ruling was not a surprise.

"I thought the state's arguments were borderline frivolous," he said. "As legal arguments, I thought they were very weak."

Calls to Forsyth County prosecutor David Hall were not immediately returned Thursday.

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  • josephlawrence43 Feb 11, 2011

    Woo: that may have been the intent--the practical, realistic side is that this bill is being used as an excuse and a reason that the convicted murderes (sp) should not be subjected to the legally established punishment.

  • shoutntime Feb 11, 2011

    This is why I think all legally obtained evidence should be allowed for both the defense and prosecution.

  • WooHoo2You Feb 11, 2011

    If you were wondering where I found my info. Here is the website... http://www2.fbi.gov/ucr/cius2009/index.html click on persons arrested, and table 43 breaks down the races-shicksx2

    Great link!!! I have been trying to find something like this from and reliable source for days however only could find sites that twisted the numbers or just made up stuff like the poster who said ‘98 percent of violent crime is preformed by Black people.’

    How about this quote from the FBI “White individuals were more often arrested for violent crimes than individuals of any other race, accounting for 58.7 percent of those arrests. “ But wait, there are more black people in jail than white. Does that make sense?
    Or the fact by population Black people are within 1 percent of Whites when it comes to murders.

  • WooHoo2You Feb 11, 2011

    I'm afraid that what has to happen is that we stop making excuses, and trying to find someway/reason not to punish those who break the law. Hold them accountable for once. Thats part of the problem--a significant number of criminals have never been held responsible for anything--now is a good time to start..-josephlawrence43

    No one is trying to let people off!!! How do you not understand this after two days? The point is make sure people are treated the SAME not different regardless of race.

  • shicksx2 Feb 11, 2011

    If you were wondering where I found my info. Here is the website...
    http://www2.fbi.gov/ucr/cius2009/index.html
    click on persons arrested, and table 43 breaks down the races

  • shicksx2 Feb 11, 2011

    Why can we not have a constructive debate and voice opionions. Even when we disagree, lets do it respectfully. I get so tired of reading comments on golo and cringing at some of the comments and clearly racist statements that are made by some. I do not know if US Vet was being sarcastic or if it was actually thought that he was typing a actual fact, however, here are the most recent Dept of Justice Statistics.
    In 2009, 69.1 percent of all individuals arrested were white, 28.3 percent were black, and 2.6 percent were of other races.
    Of all juveniles (individuals under the age of 18) arrested in 2009 in the Nation, 65.9 percent were white, 31.3 percent were black, and 2.8 percent were of other races.
    Nearly 70 percent (69.7) of all adults arrested in 2009 were white, 27.8 percent were black, and 2.5 percent were of other races.
    White individuals were more often arrested for violent crimes than individuals of any other race, accounting for 58.7 percent of those arrests.

  • josephlawrence43 Feb 11, 2011

    I'm afraid that what has to happen is that we stop making excuses, and trying to find someway/reason not to punish those who break the law. Hold them accountable for once. Thats part of the problem--a significant number of criminals have never been held responsible for anything--now is a good time to start..

  • WooHoo2You Feb 11, 2011

    Why didn't you use Abhijit Mahato as your example? "Who is that?" people may ask. Well, he's "that other guy" that was murdered by the men who killed Eve Carson. He was also robbed and shot at point blank range in the head. Somehow people are a lot less outraged about that murder. If you look at the cases side by side, the criminals are the same, the crime is the same, but it is highly unlikely that anyone would have faced the death penalty for "just" killing Abhijit Mahato.-bill0

    You mean the Indian born (India, not Native American) Duke Grad student that was killed for an IPod, cell phone, and whatever cash he had on hand? Race never matters that’s why he received equal coverage and you always see his photo in the story or hear his parent's opinion on the death penalty…. BTW, Eve's parents are against death penalty which I find ironic that someone would choose to use her murder as an example for it.

  • wildcat Feb 11, 2011

    Thanks for allowing my comments. I appreciate that. Have a great weekend. May God continue to bless all of you.

  • bill0 Feb 11, 2011

    aetius476 - just to point out the obvious, but your example continues to show how the identity of the victim influences punishment.

    Why didn't you use Abhijit Mahato as your example? "Who is that?" people may ask. Well, he's "that other guy" that was murdered by the men who killed Eve Carson. He was also robbed and shot at point blank range in the head. Somehow people are a lot less outraged about that murder. If you look at the cases side by side, the criminals are the same, the crime is the same, but it is highly unlikely that anyone would have faced the death penalty for "just" killing Abhijit Mahato.

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