Patterico's Pontifications


“Racial Justice” Law Could Mean Reduced Sentence for Killer Who Killed Because of Race

Filed under: Crime,Race — Patterico @ 10:54 pm

Welcome to a country where a law called the “Racial Justice Act” is employed to potentially reduce the punishment of someone who killed a man because of his color:

For nearly three weeks, convicted murderer Marcus Reymond Robinson has listened quietly inside a county courtroom here to intricate testimony about statistics — dry statistics that could get him off death row.

Robinson, a black man convicted of killing a white teenager in 1991, is the first inmate to test North Carolina’s Racial Justice Act, the nation’s only law that allows death row prisoners to reduce their sentences to life without parole by proving racial bias in jury selection or sentencing.

The alleged racial bias being discussed, mind you, is not racial bias from Robinson’s trial. It all has to do with other trials. We have to find out if the system is racist, you see, so we can mitigate the punishment of this racist murderer — even if his own trial was fair. Don’t you get it?

The issue of race has dominated Robinson’s hearing before a Superior Court judge here. Prosecutors have pointed out that Robinson said “he was going to get him a whitey” before he killed 17-year-old Erik Tornblom with a shotgun blast to the face and robbed him of $27. An accomplice is serving a life sentence.

So how will this racial bias be proved? By statistics!

Robinson’s case, and possibly those to follow, hinges on a voluminous study of peremptory challenges by prosecutors in 173 death penalty cases in North Carolina between 1990 and 2010.

The courts look at whether prosecutors struck more blacks than whites from death penalty juries. The story does not say whether the courts will be allowed to examine whether there are racially neutral reasons for the strikes.

Let’s say there are six whites and six blacks on your panel. Four of the whites and two of the blacks say they can treat everyone equally, while two of the whites and four of the blacks say they can’t apply the death penalty and that they don’t trust police. You, as the prosecutor, strike the latter six from your panel.

You have just struck twice as many blacks as whites. You racist. And yet, you were doing your job: excusing biased jurors for race-neutral reasons.

So now, under this law, we take the statistics from your case and go study them in a completely different case that has nothing to do with yours. This is all necessary, we are told, in the name of “racial justice.” Meanwhile, what of the white boy who was killed for being white?

The use of statistics from unrelated trials, permitted under the act, has enraged opponents of the law, among them Tornblom’s parents. The couple has attended the trial, quietly fuming as they listened to testimony.

“This whole study is a sham,” Tornblom’s stepmother, Patricia Tornblom, said in a courtroom interview during a break in testimony. “What does all this stuff from other cases have to do with this case?”

Her stepson, not Robinson, was the victim of racism, she said, nodding toward the defendant. Robinson, 38, a broad-faced man with short dreadlocks, sat at the defense table nearby, dressed in a sport shirt and khaki pants.

“He chose a white boy to kill — and he killed him,” Tornblom said.

Ah, racial justice. George Orwell would be so proud!

11 Responses to ““Racial Justice” Law Could Mean Reduced Sentence for Killer Who Killed Because of Race”

  1. What perfect cosmic irony.

    Apparently North Carolina is unique in having this crazy unjust law. No wonder the Democrats got hammered in 2010 if this is the kind of nonsense they were up to.

    The critics are right. This crazy law is just a sneaky way to subvert the death penalty. But this part of the LA Times story really brings the crazy…

    “Robinson’s case is being closely followed by legal scholars, lawyers and politicians. If he’s successful, it could prompt calls for similar laws in at least 20 other states that have conducted studies on race, jury selection and the death penalty.”

    Really? Really? This monstrosity of a case would increase the chances of similar laws being passed? The political blindness and disconnection from the public will that the Left continues to demonstrate still amazes me.

    Brad (07a560)

  2. That’s North Carolina? Where crimes are hard to solve because the DNA is all the same and there are no dental records?

    North Carolina state motto: At least we’re not Mississippi.

    North Carolina bride on her wedding night: Daddy, what’s incest mean?

    North Carolina wife: I’m leaving you.
    North Carolina husband: Why?
    North Carolina wife: Because you’re a pedophile.
    North Carolina husband: Pedophile? That’s a mighty big word for an eleven year old.

    nk (dec503)

  3. In stories like this it would be nice to know if the families of the victims are Democrats.

    It makes a difference if an atrocity being committed against someone by a court is something that that someone voted to impose on themselves and the rest of us by voting for Democrats. Sure, it makes no legal difference, but the difference in the meaning of the story is huge, nevertheless.

    “Policeman accidentally guns down citizen” takes on a whole different meaning when the real story should be “Policeman accidentally shoots illegal arms dealer with a faulty gun sold to the police department by the arms dealer.”

    Roland (5ff18d)

  4. Since it is a self-evident truth that anything can be proved with the (in)appropriate (mis)application of statistics, I expect bad things from this.

    On the other hand, if statistics become the new deciding factor in jury trials I expect a booming industry in expert statistical witnesses.

    I’m gonna start a school and advertise it on matchbooks!

    Pious Agnostic (7c3d5b)

  5. What do you get when a gorilla escapes from a zoo in Virginia and makes it to North Carolina? A 50% increase in North Carolina’s average IQ.

    nk (dec503)

  6. This post has no pull, Patterico, ’cause that’s whachalld’spect outa Noth Kayrolienah.

    nk (dec503)

  7. The law reminds of the one Obama was so proud of sponsoring in Illinois that regulated police traffic stops by the racial composition of each town. If your traffic stops were out of whack statistically with your demographics you were deemed to be engaged in racial profiling.

    Obama wanted to roll it out nationally when he got to the Senate.

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  8. The white victim seemed to have been a racist too for the black guy to want to kill him for being white. Racism begat racism…. 🙂

    The Emperor (bf5d7e)

  9. Greetings:

    Several years ago, during one of my Internet Safaris (gratuitous MAC plug), I came across the US Department of Justice’s crime statistics. At that time, according to those statistics, a white person had more than three times the chance of being murdered by a black person than a black person had of being murdered by a white person. And, that was a straight comparison of the number of those murders without a finagling of the statistics to account for the much larger number of white folks compared to black folks.

    11B40 (3271c3)

  10. Yup. 13% of the population, 93% of the rapes and murders.

    nk (dec503)

  11. Don’t trust any laws or projects or task forces or the like if they contain the word “Justice.”

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

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