Lawyers, victims, and family members gathered in the Mecklenburg County Courthouse last week to hear the last remaining Racial Justice Act cases. While the four convicted murderers are on death row today, Judge Erwin Spainhour, who is serving as a reserve judge, will rule sometime in the future whether or not they can apply the Racial Justice Act (RJA) to their cases.
While we wait for the fate of the convicted murderers, family members of the victims traveled as many as four hours just to try to piece together what may happen. One thing that was different for the families this time was that the hearing was a matter of law, not a matter of fact (i.e. evidence about the crimes committed). The families often have to rehash all the details of the brutal murders every time they walk in the courtroom. While this one only brought forth logistics of the law, it looks like the families will have to wait for the outcome of this action to finally know what punishment the convicted murderers will face.
One interesting part of the hearing was when one of the lawyers, who would like the convicted killers to be able to use RJA, brought up the question of whether or not the legislature targeted the murderers in repealing RJA and whether this targeting was permitted. In her argument, the legislature, lobbyists, and the families all came together to target them because there were newspaper articles, emails, and other documentation saying they wanted to repeal RJA. While the lawyers think that these documents were uncalled for, weren’t the original acts of murder uncalled for in the first place?
So while you may be trying to wrap your head around all the crazy details of what is going on in these cases, other death penalty cases, and other cases that involve innocent victims of crimes, one thing remains the same: The families of the victims are remaining victims with no closure because their cases are still tied up in the court system.