The Supreme Court of the United States will not hear an appeal from four former death row inmates in North Carolina who claimed systemic racial bias contributed to their death sentences.
The justices said Monday they will not disturb a state Supreme Court ruling that could result in new death sentences for the inmates — three African-American and one Native American.
They were among defendants whose sentences were cut from death to life in prison under the state's unique Racial Justice Act.
The law allowed prisoners on death row and defendants in capital cases to use statistics to prove racial bias. The law has since been repealed, but appeals filed under the law have essentially halted executions in North Carolina, where no one has been executed in more than 10 years.