Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Bulletin: Duane Buck: Texas Court of Criminal appeals denies Duane Buck's appeal for a new sentencing hearing free from racial bias:

PUBLISHER'S VIEW:   "Publisher's View: This anal decision is of deep concern to this Blog. At Duane Buck's capital sentencing hearing the trial prosecutor elicited testimony from a psychologist that he posed a future danger because he is black.  (Talk about junk science! HL);  As the release succinctly points out, the State of Texas is linking race to future dangerousness. This is unscientific, dangerous and utterly offensive. It is also discriminatory, as new sentencing hearings have been ordered in all six other hearings tainted by the same poisonous evidence. At the very least the State of Texas must order a new sentencing hearing for Mr. Buck  which is free of racist overtones - or once again  the U.S. Supreme Court must intervene.

Harold Levy. Publisher. The Charles Smith Blog.

RELEASE: "Statement from attorney's for Duane Buck in response to today's ruling by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals,"  published  on November 20, 2013 by attorney Kate Black, Christina Swarns, Director of the Criminal Justice Practice at NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, and Kathryn Kase, Executive Director of Texas Defender Service;

SUB-HEADING:  "Today, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals denied Duane Buck's appeal for a new sentencing hearing free from racial bias."

GIST: (Case background):  "At Mr. Buck’s 1997 capital sentencing hearing in Harris County, Texas, the trial prosecutor elicited testimony from a psychologist that Mr. Buck posed a future danger because he is black. The prosecutor relied on this testimony in arguing in favor of a death sentence. The jury then found Mr. Buck would be a future danger and sentenced him to death.  In 2000, three years after Mr. Buck’s capital trial, then-Texas Attorney General (now U.S. Senator) John Cornyn identified seven cases in which the State of Texas impermissibly relied on testimony linking race to future dangerousness, including Mr. Buck’s. The Attorney General promised not to oppose attempts to get new sentencing hearings for the seven identified defendants. All have received new sentencing hearings – except for Mr. Buck. New research shows that at the time of Mr. Buck’s trial, the Harris County District Attorney’s Office was over three times more likely to seek the death penalty against African American defendants than against similarly-situated white defendants in cases like Mr. Buck’s and Harris County juries were more than twice as likely to impose death sentences on African American defendants in cases like Mr. Buck’s. Mr. Buck’s case has sparked outrage from the civil rights community and other prominent individuals in Harris County and across the country. More than 100 civil rights leaders, elected officials, former prosecutors, former Governor Mark White and faith leaders agree that Mr. Buck must be granted a new sentencing hearing where race is not a consideration. One of the trial prosecutors, Linda Geffin, and the surviving victim, Phyllis Taylor, are among those urging the State to give Mr. Buck a new sentencing hearing.   Ms. Taylor has explained, “I have forgiven Duane and could not bear to see him executed. I pray that his life be spared.” In addition, over 50,000 people from Texas and around the country have signed a petition calling on Texas officials to grant Mr. Buck a new sentencing hearing. Mr. Buck’s life was spared by the U.S. Supreme Court before his September 2011 scheduled execution. Two U.S. Supreme Court justices agreed that Mr. Buck’s death sentence requires review because “our criminal justice system should not tolerate” a death sentence “marred by racial overtones."

GIST: (Statement from Duane Buck's attorneys);   “We are gravely disappointed that the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has dismissed Duane Buck’s appeal and failed to recognize that his death sentence is the unconstitutional product of racial discrimination. As noted by three members of the Court, ‘[t]he record in this case reveals a chronicle of inadequate representation at every stage of the proceedings, the integrity of which is further called into question by the admission of racist and inflammatory testimony from an expert witness at the punishment stage.’"

The entire release can be found at:


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