From McCleskey to the Racial Justice Act: Race, The Death Penalty, and Human Rights in North Carolina

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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

6:30 PM

8:30 PM

Classroom 5042

UNC School of Law's Death Penalty Project is proud to announce its upcoming event as part of Martin Luther King Jr. Day observances, "From McCleskey to the NC Racial Justice Act: Race, the Death Penalty, and Human Rights in North Carolina." Participants will examine recent developments regarding racial discrimination and the imposition of the death penalty in North Carolina. The event will take place on Wednesday, January 19 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the UNC School of Law. The event is free and open to the public. Hors d'oeuvres and light refreshments will be served.

The event will feature three prominent speakers:

  • Jack Boger, Dean of UNC School of Law, argued before the Supreme Court on behalf of defendant McCleskey and was the director of the NAACP Capital Punishment Project and Poverty and Justice Program. He will speak about the impact and legacy of the case.
  • Rev. Dr. William Barber II is President of North Carolina Conference of Branches of the NAACP and will speak about ongoing struggles for racial and social justice in North Carolina.
  • Tye Hunter is the Executive Director of the Center for Death Penalty Litigation in Durham. He will speak about the meaning and impact of the Racial Justice Act.

There will be a Q&A session for panelists at the end of the event.

In McCleskey v. Kemp, the Supreme Court ruled against mandating the use of general evidence of racial bias in the imposition of the death penalty for individual defendants. However, the ruling left open the possibility for states to create their own respective remedies for addressing race bias. In 2009, North Carolina passed the NC Racial Justice Act, landmark legislation allowing those facing capital prosecution or execution in North Carolina to use statistical evidence to support claims that race bias played a role in their prosecution or sentencing. If racial bias is found, the Act provides that the defendant receive a penalty of life without the possibility of parole. The UNC School of Law Community was instrumental in both the passage and implementation of the NC Racial Justice Act. The Act continues to foster significant public debate regarding the intersection between race, sentencing, and other justice issues.

This event will provide an opportunity to discuss the state of racial justice and human rights in North Carolina. This event will celebrate the legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by highlighting gains for racial and social justice as well as stressing the ongoing work to achieve the dream.

All members of the community are invited to join in this discussion.

The event is sponsored by the Carolina Death Penalty Project, the UNC Law American Civil Liberties Union, the UNC Black Law Students Association, and the North Carolina Coalition for a Moratorium.

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