Last week, the Supreme Court halted the execution of Keith Tharpe in Georgia because of a juror’s admission that he voted for death because he believed Tharpe was a “n—-r.” It might be tempting to believe this case was just an anomaly. But Keith Tharpe is far from the only defendant to be sentenced to death by a deeply racist juror.
Duane Buck was sentenced to death after an expert deemed him inherently dangerous because of his race. The racism in his trial was blatant, yet it still took 20 years for him to win a new sentencing hearing. Just like Texas, North Carolina fights every day to execute people whose trials were stained by racial bias.
On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed what North Carolina death row inmates have been saying since 2010: Race discrimination in jury selection is a serious problem, and states cannot continue to ignore it.
A case heard in the U.S. Supreme Court this week could force courts across the country to stop ignoring clear evidence that African Americans are systematically denied the right to serve on juries. North Carolina should watch this case closely.
The Racial Justice Act went to the Supreme Court this week. Now, the state’s highest court must decide how North Carolina should deal with revelations that African-Americans are being systematically denied the right to serve on capital juries.