RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCT) North Carolina Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on February 3 in the cases of two criminal defendants, Cory Bennett of Sampson County and Cedric Hobbs of Cumberland County.
According to the press release, in both cases, the court must decide whether prosecutors illegally excluded black citizens from juries because of their race.
If the court decides in the defendants’ favor, it will be the first time in North Carolina’s history that the high court has acknowledged race discrimination against jurors of color.
Duke Law Professor James Coleman, a scholar on race and the law who filed an amicus brief in both cases says, ” These cases are about far more than these two defendants. They’re about whether North Carolina’s high court will finally confront the problem of African Americans being systematically denied the right to wield power in our justice system. For too long, this discrimination has been an open secret, ignored at the highest levels of North Carolina’s justice system. Now, our court has the chance to say that race discrimination in the jury box must end.”
If the North Carolina Supreme Court finds race discrimination in these cases, it will join other state courts that have recently confronted the issue, such as Washington, Nevada, and Connecticut.