Texas Court Bars Inmate’s Claim That He Was Sentenced to Death Because He Is Black

By: Sunday November 24, 2013 6:00 pm

By a vote of 6-3, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has rejected Duane Bucks’s request to vacate his death sentence and remand his case to the trial court for a new sentencing hearing. Mr. Buck was sentenced to death by a Harris County jury for the 1995 murder of his former girlfriend, Debra Gardner, and her friend, Kenneth Butler. He has admitted that he shot them to death in a jealous rage and does not challenge the conviction.

Preventing the Texecution of Duane Buck, Sentenced to Death Because Black

By: Thursday July 11, 2013 5:05 pm

To even the most casual observer, it is clear that Texas’ justice system is plagued by serious racial inequalities. The case of Duane Buck is an outrageous example of racial discrimination in Texas’ death penalty. At Mr. Buck’s capital sentencing hearing sixteen years ago, the prosecutor elicited testimony from a psychologist who said Mr. Buck posed a future danger to society because he’s black. Based on this testimony, the prosecutor then urged the jury to issue a death sentence — which they did. Neither the judge nor Mr. Buck’s attorney at the time objected to this testimony, belying a larger national problem in which defense for the indigent is horribly lacking and under-funded.

This testimony was so egregious that in 2000, Senator John Cornyn, who was then Texas’ Attorney General, identified seven cases in which the state unconstitutionally relied on testimony linking race to future dangerousness. All of the defendants — except Mr. Buck — were awarded new sentencing hearings. Mr. Buck was arbitrarily and unfairly singled out in this instance.

Supreme Court Stops Texas Execution

By: Friday September 16, 2011 7:15 am

The Supreme Court made the rare decision to step in and order a stay of execution for Duane Edward Buck in Texas, hours before he was to die, because the jury sentencing him to death was told that Buck posed a greater threat to public safety because of his race.

The justices still must determine whether they will review the Buck case, so this stay may not last very long.

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