VANGUARD WEBINAR: Lawsuit Challenges the California Death Penalty as Racially Discriminatory

In April, an unprecedented lawsuit was filed in the Supreme Court of California challenging the state’s death penalty statute as racially discriminatory and unconstitutional under the Equal Protection guarantees of the California Constitution.

The filers which include the ACLU, LDF (Legal Defense Fund), the Office of the State Public Defender (on behalf of OSPD), Witness to Innocence, LatinoJustice PRLDEF (Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund), the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, and Eva Paterson, co-founder of the Equal Justice Society, claim, “This is the first time a petition of this nature has been filed with the court.”

Numerous empirical studies by leading social science experts reveal troubling disparities: Black people are about five times more likely to be sentenced to death when compared to similarly situated non-Black defendants, while Latino people are at least three times more likely to be sentenced to death.”

The 95-page complaint stated, “The parties agree that persistent and pervasive racial disparities infect California’s death penalty system.”

The Vanguard recently hosted a webinar to discuss this historic suit.


Avi Frey, Counsel from ACLU of Northern California
Lisa Romo, Office of State Public Defender (OSPD)
Morgan Zamora, prison advocacy coordinator at the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights
Karen Munoz, from LatinoJustice


Madison Whittemore, Vanguard News
Sophie Yoakum, Vanguard News

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Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

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