Research for Human Rights

A continuing goal of the Archive for Human Rights at the RBMSCL is to explore how archives can help sustain and nurture human rights and social justice. Over the past few months, we have had the exciting opportunity to provide our knowledge and services to the staff of the Center for Death Penalty Litigation (CDPL), a Durham, NC-based non-profit that provides post-conviction legal representation to indigent defendants accused or convicted of capital crimes in the state of North Carolina.

On August 11, 2009, Governor Bev Purdue signed into law the North Carolina Racial Justice Act, which will allow defendants facing the death penalty to present evidence of racial bias, including statistics, in court. Since the act was signed into law, CDPL lawyers have been working with the CDPL case files archived here at the RBMSCL to uncover evidence of such bias. CDPL staff easily accessed the well-arranged collection through its online finding aid to determine which boxes and files contained relevant material. They then worked with RBMSCL staff to call boxes for review in our research room and to take advantage of our duplication services.

In addition to research for the Racial Justice Act, CDPL and ACLU lawyers have been reviewing case files in our reading room to research how broader discovery and prosecutorial issues may impact future death penalty cases. We hope our services will continue to aid their efforts.

Post contributed by Patrick Stawski, Human Rights Archivist.