NAACP to Discuss N.C. Court System
The NAACP was expected to point to a parade of recent cases to call for reform of the state's justice system at the group's annual convention this weekend.Posted — Updated
NAACP officials pointed to a parade of recent cases that they said raise questions about the system.
“Only the guilty should go to jail,” said the Rev. William Barber, president of the state’s NAACP.
The NAACP pushing to get charges dropped against James Johnson, who is accused in the June 2004 rape and murder of Brittany Willis, a Wilson teen. No DNA or physical evidence connect Johnson to the crimes, and a man convicted of the crimes confessed to committing them alone.
“I don’t think we had a whole systemic problem,” she said. “Our system is not a very rapid system, and it is overloaded. I think we should always be questioning the system, but I have a great deal of confidence in it.”
The 2007 General Assembly passed a law giving the governor more power over elected judges and DA's. If a judge or DA is disbarred, the governor can remove them from office immediately.
The NAACP is also calling for increased ethical standards for lawyers. The group wants lawyers' organizations, including the State Bar Association, to add language to their bylaws saying prosecutors in criminal cases should not discriminate based on race in administering justice.
Bill Underwood, an attorney with the Mecklenburg County District's Attorney Office, said even if North Carolina's courts do not have a system-wide problem, they still have an image problem in light of recent missteps.
“I’m hoping that we're going to address these problems with the intelligence we have and with dedication to re-creating the common vision that I think’s gotten a little obscure,” Underwood said.
Copyright 2023 by Capitol Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.