Guide to the Robert P. Mosteller Papers, 1978-2002
Law professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Former president of the North Carolina Center for Death Penalty Litigation. Legal files, transcripts, and motions from the case of John Wesley Oliver, a former death row inmate in North Carolina. Includes materials from his initial trial with co-defendant George Moore and subsequent appeals in North Carolina's court system. Acquired as part of the Human Rights Archive.
- Collection Number
- Robert P. Mosteller papers
- Mosteller, Robert P.
- 6 Linear Feet, 3750 Items
- David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
- Material in English
Collection consists of the case file for John Wesley Oliver, a former death row inmate who was represented by Robert P. Mosteller. Materials from Oliver's case (as well as his co-defendant, George Moore, Jr.) date as early as witness statements from 1978, and end with NC Court of Appeals judgments from 2002. The majority of the files are legal motions, trial transcripts, and court orders from Moore and Oliver's various court cases and appeals in 1979, 1982, 1993, and 2001. There is very little material that falls outside the official documentation of the case, and there is no personal material from Mosteller in this collection. Files have been arranged as best as possible in chronological order.
Acquired as part of the Human Rights Archive.
Collection is open for research.
Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection.
All or portions of this collection may be housed off-site in Duke University's Library Service Center. The library may require up to 48 hours to retrieve these materials for research use.
Please contact Research Services staff before visiting the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library to use this collection.
The copyright interests in this collection have not been transferred to Duke University. For more information, consult the copyright section of the Regulations and Procedures of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library.
Robert P. Mosteller (b. 1948) is the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Professor of Law at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He was born in North Carolina and earned graduate degrees from both Yale and Harvard before working for the Washington, D.C. Public Defender Service as Director of Training and Chief of the Trial Division. Mosteller taught at Duke Law School from 1983 to 2008. He is particularly interested the death penalty, and served as co-reported for the Death Penalty Initiative of the Constitution Project and as president of the North Carolina Center for Death Penalty Litigation.
Mosteller was also an attorney for John Wesley Oliver, a former death row inmate whose case file represents the content in this collection.
In May 1979, John Wesley Oliver and co-defendant George Moore, Jr., were convicted of murdering Allen Watts and Dayton Hodge in an armed robbery of a gas station in Robeson County, North Carolina. Oliver was sentenced to death for both murders, while Moore was sentenced to death for the murder of Dayton Hodge. On appeal, the Supreme Court of North Carolina affirmed the defendants' convictions, but vacated the death sentences and remanded the cases for re-sentencing.
In January 1982, Oliver was re-sentenced to death for the murder of Dayton Hodge, and both defendants were sentenced to death for the murder of Allen Watts. The case was appealed, and the death penalty for Watts' murder was overturned, but Oliver's second death sentence for the murder of Dayton Hodge was affirmed.
In April 1994, following a hearing on Oliver's Motion for Appropriate Relief, the court vacated Oliver's death sentence when the Superior Court judge found that the prosecution had withheld from the defense important information that would have cast doubt on eyewitnesses' identification of Oliver as the person responsible for the death of Dayton Hodge. The judge ordered a new sentencing hearing regarding Hodge's murder. In a 2009 article, Mosteller writes that "a combination of processes resulted in the exclusion of all African Americans in a jurisdiction where approximately one-fourth of the population was African American from a jury that in 1982 recommended death sentences for two African American defendents [Oliver and Moore] charged with the murder of two white men.... The death sentence was vacated on the basis of a violation of the defendant's due process rights under Brady v. Maryland" (Kotch and Mosteller: "The Racial Justice Act and the Long Struggle with Race and the Death Penalty in North Carolina").
The cases came before the court in November 2001 for re-sentencing, and the State of North Carolina elected not to seek the death penalty. Oliver was sentenced to life imprisonment for both murders, while Moore was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of Dayton Hodge.
- African American prisoners
- Death row inmates -- North Carolina
- Death row -- North Carolina
- Human Rights Archive (Duke University)
- Hodge, Dayton
- Moore, George
- Mosteller, Robert P.
- Mosteller, Robert P.
- North Carolina. Supreme Court
- North Carolina. Superior Court (Robeson County)
- Oliver, John Wesley
- Prisoners -- Racism -- North Carolina
- Trials (Murder) -- North Carolina
- Trials -- Racism -- North Carolina
- Watts, Allen
Related material can be found in the Center for Death Penalty Litigation records, also held by the Human Rights Archive (Duke University).
[Identification of item], Robert P. Mosteller Papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.
The Robert P. Mosteller Papers were received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library as a gift in 2011.
Processed by Meghan Lyon, June 2011
Encoded by Meghan Lyon, June 2011
Accession(s) described in this finding aid: 2011-0132