RALEIGH NC (WECT/AP) – North Carolina Gov. Beverly Perdue vetoed a bill Wednesday morning that would have essentially repealed a 2009 law designed to address alleged racial bias in death penalty cases.
She shot down Senate Bill 9, which repealed parts of the Racial Justice Act she signed into law just two years ago.
The act says judges must cut a death sentence to life in prison without parole if a defendant proves racial bias played a role in getting the death penalty.
Sen. Thom Goolsby (R - New Hanover) expressed his disappointment with Perdue's decision.
"The so-called Racial Justice Act was effectively an embargo on capital punishment sentences," said Goolsby. "It deprived victims' families of justice for heinous crimes and challenged our courts with an unconstitutional stall on the death penalty. The Supreme Court said defendants cannot appeal a sentence based on arbitrary statistics or studies unrelated to their crime."
Nearly every district attorney in the state pushed for repeal, saying the act is being mis-used and making it harder to deliver justice.
Governor Perdue's veto means she must call the general assembly back to Raleigh by January 8 to consider an override, which seems unlikely since the original vote on the bill ran along party lines.