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PNS Daily Newscast - August 22, 2019 


The latest Trump child-detention policy sparks harsh criticism. Also on the Thursday rundown: New York sues the EPA over Hudson River PCBs.

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First NC Racial Justice Act Case is Successful

April 23, 2012

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. - The first court challenge brought under the landmark Racial Justice Act (RJA) was successful on Friday, with inmate Marcus Robinson's death sentence converted to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

The RJA allows death row inmates to argue that race was a factor in their sentencing or jury selection.

The case is seen as a significant legal precedent, according to Jay Ferguson, one of Robinson's attorneys.

"For the first time ever, North Carolina prosecutors are going to have to take seriously the constitutional mandate that they not use race in the selection of jurors in capital cases."

The state has indicated it plans to appeal North Carolina Superior Court Judge Gregory Weeks' ruling.

As Ferguson puts it, the ruling has put state prosecutors at a crossroads, after initially denying the studies that found race plays a role in the North Carolina justice system.

"The prosecutors have a decision to make. I think the state can either embrace the ruling and move forward from here, or they can continue to fight the ruling and take a few steps backwards."

Although the state may appeal the Friday ruling, Ferguson says the judge's findings are supported by research and legal precedent.

State prosecutors have insisted that race does not play a role in their selection of juries or sentencing of defendants, although the RJA was passed after a body of independent research indicated that race had often been a factor in selecting juries.

Stephanie Carroll Carson, Public News Service - NC