State senator Thom Goolsby’s (R-Wilmington) bill to repeal the grossly-misnamed Racial Justice Act has cleared its first hurdle. It passed a Senate committee today.
The RJA — passed by a Democrat majority on Jones Street — allows inmates on death row to have their sentences overturned if a judge finds race may have played a role in their sentencing. The bill was passed despite the overwhelming objections of state prosecutors — Democrat AND Republican. Racial discrimination is already illegal. Critics saw the bill as hamstringing the state’s ability to hand down a death sentence for some of the most heinous violent crimes. RJA supporters — mainly law school professors and defense attorneys — see it as an important civil rights protection (as well as a wheel-greaser and a lucrative cash-cow, I’m sure).
Recently, some trial lawyers have been successful in shopping their RJA-based death sentence appeals to lefty judges. At least four death sentences have already been reversed. The thing about those reversals? All of them featured minority defendants killing minority victims. (In two cases, the victims were on-duty law enforcement officers.)
Goolsby’s bill takes this valuable piece of ammo away from the criminal defense attorneys, and protects physicians and nurses involved in executions from litigation.
This is SUCH a no-brainer. This bill is an example of the kind of thing Republicans were sent to Raleigh to take care of. We don’t need any Tillis /McCrory -style watering down or waffling here. This is about ensuring that the families of crime victims — past, present and future — get the justice they deserve. Pass it. Sign it. Make it so.