The NAACP is taking issue with a Fayetteville legislator's remarks on the floor of the Senate on Wednesday during the debate over repealing the Racial Justice Act.
Republican Sen. Wesley Meredith argued that Cumberland County Superior Court Judge Gregory Weeks should have recused himself from hearing claims filed under the RJA because he had presided over some of the cases earlier. Meredith asked "why do we need a minority judge who knew the case?"
Weeks is black. The argument was not about the judge's race, but whether people convicted of capital murder should have their sentences converted to life in prison without parole if there was racial prejudice in their trial. However, prosecutors fought hard to stop the first RJA cases before they went to Weeks, and then tried to have him removed from the hearings.
Rev. William Barber issued a news release calling Meredith's remark offensive.
At the end of Wednesday's debate, Sen. Dan Blue, a Raleigh Democrat who is African-American, spoke on the floor in defense of Weeks, adding that he was sure Meredith didn't intend to disparage the judge.