Marcus Reymond Robinson (Photo: N.C. Dept. of Public Safety)
A ruling for Marcus Reymond Robinson’s petition is expected in the next few weeks. Robinson, a black male convicted of killing a white teenager in 1991, is the first inmate to test North Carolina’s Racial Justice Act that allows death row inmates to appeal their sentence on the basis that racial bias played a role in their sentencing.
The landmark piece of legislation, signed into law in 2009, allows death row inmates to bring statistics before judges to help make their case that racial bias played a role in their sentencing. If they can prove that it did, they win an opportunity to have their sentences commuted to life in prison.
Robinson’s case is being closely followed by legal scholars, lawyers and politicians.
“It’s new territory,” Richard Dieter, director of the nonpartisan Death Penalty Information Center, told the LA Times of the case’s legal and political implications.
According to the LA Times, more than 150 inmates on North Carolina’s death row, many of whom are white, have petitioned for hearings under the law. Dieter points out that white, as well as black, defendants could argue that eliminating black jurors denied them jurors more likely to oppose the death penalty and to view police with suspicion.
Take a look at the infographic below that illustrates how race colors death row ‘justice.’