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State Tries to Oust African-American Judge

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ALERT: State Tries to Oust African-American Judge in First Racial Justice Act Hearing

Dear Supporter,

State prosecutors will argue in Nash County Court tomorrow that an experienced and fair African-American judge should not preside over North Carolina's first Racial Justice Act hearing.

We need supporters to attend the hearing tomorrow in order to combat this thinly veiled attempt to remove a qualified judge from power in our capital punishment system because of his race.

Superior Court Judge Greg Weeks, who has 23 years' experience on the bench and is one of only a handful of black superior court judges in North Carolina, was to be the first judge in the state to hear evidence in a case filed under the N.C. Racial Justice Act. The 2009 law allows death row inmates to have their sentences converted to life in prison without parole if they can persuade a judge that race was a significant factor in the decisions to seek or impose the death penalty at the time of their trials.

If you are in the area and available tomorrow, please consider attending this hearing:

WHAT: Court hearing to decide whether Superior Court Judge Greg Weeks, an African-American judge with 23 years' experience, should preside over the state's first Racial Justice Act hearing

WHERE: Nash County Superior Court, 234 West Washington Street, Nashville, NC 27856

WHEN: 10 a.m., Thursday, November 10, 2011

Prosecutors argue that Weeks should recuse himself because they might need him as a witness to their own good character. "In my many years as an attorney, I have never seen a party use such a flimsy pretext to try to get rid of a judge," said Duke University law professor James E. Coleman, who is representing the defendant, Marcus Robinson, in the case. "The implication that an African-American judge cannot preside fairly over a trial under the Racial Justice Act should offend all North Carolinians."

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