Center for Death Penalty Litigation
I’ve seen the horror of executions; Gov. Cooper must act to prevent them from happening again
This month marks the seventeenth anniversary of North Carolina’s last execution. Between 1984 and 2006, North Carolina executed 43 people. For some, it might feel like executions are ancient history in our state. However, the enormous pain they caused is still very much with us. I know because, in 2005, I stood by helplessly as […]
Newly constituted NC Supreme Court revisits the issue of racial discrimination in jury selection
High court weighs whether prosecutors used a ‘cheat sheet’ to eliminate Black people from a death penalty case jury pool The North Carolina Supreme Court heard oral arguments Wednesday over whether a Forsyth County prosecutor used a “cheat sheet” to remove Black people from a jury in a capital trial in 1996.
Jean Parks of Asheville discusses the growing chorus of voices calling for the formal end to the death penalty in North Carolina
Photo courtesy: NCCADP/Art Grand
Remembering Marcus Robinson, who helped expose death penalty racism
Last month, Marcus Robinson was found dead in his cell at Scotland Correctional Institution. The prison ruled it a suicide. He was 49 and had spent his entire adult life, as well as a good chunk of his childhood, in prison. His death didn’t make the news. But for those who worked on Marcus’ case […]
First NC death sentence since 2019 is a reminder: Even without executions, the machinery of death cranks on
If you follow the news about the death penalty, you’ve probably heard that five executions are scheduled in United States in the next few weeks — and that one of them is Melissa Lucio, who is set to be killed in Texas in a few days despite overwhelming evidence that she was coerced into confessing […]
Anniversary provides powerful reminder of racism that afflicts NC’s death penalty
A few months ago, my former client Robert Bacon died in the hospital at Central Prison. Because of COVID-19, he died alone. His loving sister had only a video call with him a few weeks after medical staff stopped Robert’s cancer treatments. I’ve been thinking about Robert a lot lately, because twenty years ago this week, he was scheduled to be executed.
First Racial Justice Act claim since landmark 2020 ruling is heard in state court
The first case re-evaluating the role of racial bias in the death penalty began last week in Wake County, the result of a landmark 2020 state Supreme Court decision. Hasson Bacote was convicted of murdering Anthony Surles, an 18-year-old high schooler in Johnston County in 2007, WRAL reported. A jury sentenced Bacote to death in 2009. That […]
Wake County sought the death penalty for a man with severe mental illness; only a pandemic stopped it
Wake County prosecutors knew that Kendrick Gregory had severe mental illness when they decided to try him capitally. In the eight months before the crime, he’d been hospitalized at least 20 times for mental illness. He checked himself into emergency rooms over and over, reporting symptoms of psychosis. On some occasions, he said he heard […]
Virginia just abolished its deeply racist death penalty; North Carolina must follow suit
Last week, Virginia became the first southern state to abolish the death penalty. At the signing ceremony, Gov. Ralph Northam and other speakers repeatedly referenced the racist history of the Virginia death penalty as a prime reason for its abolition. It is not a coincidence that Virginia, the birthplace of American slavery and the capital of the Confederacy, has been at the forefront of the American death penalty.
Newly discovered innocence cases show how old problems still haunt the N.C. death penalty
Last month two men were newly added to the list of innocent people who had been sentenced to death in North Carolina. Anthony Carey was to be executed for a murder he took no part in, based entirely on the testimony of a 16-year-old who had made a deal with the police. The teen said […]
Even on Death Row, there’s no escape from racism and discrimination for Black women
When the State places its noose around a white woman’s neck, the world cries foul. On January 13, Lisa Montgomery, a white woman, was led to the death chamber. The federal government used its weapon of choice, lethal injection, to kill her. She was the first woman executed by the federal government in 68 years. Widely condemned, her execution was seen as a tragic killing of a victim of horrific sexual and physical abuse.
After Trump’s rush of executions, President Biden and a Democratic Congress want to abolish the federal death penalty
While former President Trump was ending his term by granting last-minute clemency to aides and those in his close circles convicted of white-collar crimes and obstruction of justice, his administration was ordering the executions of 13 people on federal death row, the final stroke of his administration’s “law and order” campaign. In a memo ordering the […]