In North Carolina, the state appellate courts have never, in the thirty years since Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79 (1986) was decided — the seminal U.S. Supreme Court decision establishing the legal framework for claims of race discrimination in the exercise of peremptory strikes — found a single instance of discrimination against a juror of color. It’s time to change that.
The Houston Institute joined an amicus brief alongside a coalition of state and national criminal justice and civil rights advocates to ask the North Carolina Supreme Court to, at minimum, bring its jurisprudence into alignment with that of the U.S. Supreme Court and overrule prior state case law that fails to adhere to federal standards. Amici have also asked the Court to consider additional safeguards, whether pursuant to Article I, section 26 of the North Carolina Constitution, or pursuant to its commission or rulemaking authority, in order to help protect against racial bias in jury selection moving forward.
The brief was prepared by the Center for Death Penalty Litigation and Professor James E. Coleman Jr. of Duke University School of Law, and also joined by North Carolina NAACP, North Carolina Association of Black Lawyers, North Carolina Advocates for Justice, ACLU of North Carolina, ACLU Trone Center for Justice and Equality, Black Public Defender Association, Southern Center for Human Rights, Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice, Center on Race, Inequality, and the Law at NYU, Promise of Justice Initiative, National Association for Public Defense, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, LatinoJustice, PRLDEF, and Fair and Just Prosecution.
Read the brief: