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North Carolina commutes death sentence under new ‘racial bias’ law

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WASHINGTON — A North Carolina judge Friday commuted the death penalty of a black man accused of murdering a white man, saying race played a role in the severity of the sentence, in the first case reviewed under a new state law.

Judge Greg Weeks of Fayetteville commuted the sentence of Marcus Robinson to life imprisonment. The American Civil Liberties (ACLU) hailed the action as a landmark “victory over racial bias” in a capital case.

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Weeks said the death penalty would violate North Carolina’s 2009 Racial Justice Act, which prohibits courts from seeking or imposing the death penalty when race is a factor in the sentence.

According to the ACLU, the jury in Robinson’s case consisted of only two black people compared with nine white people and one Native American.

In addition, the prosecution rejected 50 percent of the potential black jurors and only 15 percent of potential white jurors, the ACLU said.

The organization said the case was the first test under North Carolina’s new Racial Justice Act, which allows capital defendants to use statistical evidence to show systemic bias in the death penalty.

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In a copy of a motion filed in the case that was obtained by AFP, Robinson’s attorneys said “race was a significant factor” in the trial and asked the court “to enter a sentence of life imprisonment without parole.”

The ACLU, which co-signed the motion, said in a statement that North Carolina’s judicial system “is plagued by racial discrimination.”

“In the last decade… defendants convicted of killing white victims were more than twice as likely to receive the death penalty from the jury than defendants charged with killing victims of color,” the statement said.

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“This evidence points to the disturbing conclusion that Marcus Robinson, a black defendant convicted for the death of a white person, received a far harsher judgment than white defendants who committed comparable crimes and from a jury that may have been tainted by a racially biased jury selection process,” the ACLU statement said.

Robinson, who was 18 years old at the time, was convicted of killing a white teenager in 1991. His execution had been scheduled once but a judge granted him a reprieve.

Prosecutors said they plan to appeal, according to the North Carolina media.

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Copyright © 2012 AFP. All rights reserved

Photo of death row building in Idaho by Jimmy Wayne via Flickr


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Trump has figured out how to get taxpayers to renovate one of his golf courses: MSNBC panel

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President Donald Trump has figured out how to have taxpayers pay to renovate his Trump National Doral Miami golf course, according to an analysis by MSNBC's Stephanie Ruhle.

"Before setting himself on fire on Ukraine yesterday, Mick Mulvaney came into the White House briefing room to break to the nation the fact the that the Trump Doral golf resort turns out to be -- in his estimation, organically, just sitting there -- the best possible place to have a G-7 Summit of world leaders," MSNBC's Brian Williams reported. "That was provision number one. There’s no better place that we can find. Number two was, the president will not profit from said G-7."

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Bill Maher reveals plan to ‘bribe’ Trump with one billion dollars — for him to leave office

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The Constitution has two mechanisms to remove President Donald Trump from office prior to his term ending on January 20, 2021: impeachment and the 25th Amendment.

HBO "Real Time" host Bill Maher noted that Trump could also choose to resign.

Maher waved around a $1 million check that he said he would give to Trump to quit.

He said he also knew 1,000 people who would do the same -- which would land Trump over $1 billion.

Maher said even poor people would pawn their wedding rings to add to the pot.

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Trump can’t fire Mulvaney because nobody else wants to be his chief of staff: report

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White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney will likely stay on at the White House despite his public confession of a quid pro quo in the Ukraine scandal at the center of the impeachment inquiry, The New York Times reported Friday.

"But Mr. Mulvaney’s job has been anything but normal since the news conference on Thursday at which he seemingly undermined the Trump administration’s strategy for avoiding impeachment by acknowledging that Mr. Trump had sought a quid pro quo for providing Ukraine with American aid," the newspaper reported. "In the chaotic aftermath, the president’s Republican allies are questioning Mr. Mulvaney’s savvy and intelligence even as the Trump campaign is defiantly turning one of his lines from the news conference into a T-shirt."

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