Saturday, May 11, 2013

Racism in a Texas Death Case -

Racism in a Texas Death Case - In the annals of racism in the Texas criminal justice system, seven death penalty cases are in a class by themselves. In 2000, after the Supreme Court ordered a new sentencing hearing in one of them, Senator John Cornyn, who was then the state attorney general, called for new sentencing hearings in the other cases for the same reason: because race was improperly and explicitly considered as a factor in determining the sentence.

Duane Buck, who was convicted of two murders, is the only one among the defendants who was not granted a new sentencing hearing. His post-conviction lawyers have uncovered a lot of mitigating evidence that his trial counsel did not present to the jury that sentenced him to death. He is seeking life without parole and is awaiting a decision on this matter by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. 

Texas has long fought his request for resentencing because it insists that Mr. Buck is responsible for introducing race into his case. A psychologist called by the defense testified at the hearing that being black increased Mr. Buck’s “future dangerousness.”