Entries tagged with “Duane Buck

Policy Issues

Representation

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Aug 18, 2016

Defense Attorney Retires from Capital Practice After No Acquittals in 40 Years and 21 Clients Sent to Death Row

Harris County, Texas has sent more peo­ple to death row than any oth­er coun­ty in the United States and Jerry Guerinot (pic­tured) was defense coun­sel for twen­ty-one of them. His death-sen­tenced clients includ­ed two who were juve­niles at the time of the crime and anoth­er who was lat­er freed after pros­e­cu­tors dropped charges against him. Labeled by some as the worst lawyer in the United States,” in forty years of prac­tice, none of Guerinot’s cap­i­tal mur­der clients was acquit­ted. Now, after decades of crit­i­cism, Guerinot says he will no longer…

Policy Issues

Arbitrariness

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Race

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United States Supreme Court

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Aug 09, 2016

Defense Lawyers, Former Prosecutors, and Constitutional Rights Groups File Amicus Briefs in Buck v. Davis

Five groups, rep­re­sent­ing defense lawyers, for­mer pros­e­cu­tors, and orga­ni­za­tions devot­ed to pro­tect­ing con­sti­tu­tion­al lib­er­ties have filed ami­cus briefs in the U.S. Supreme Court in sup­port of Texas death row pris­on­er Duane Buck. Buck was sen­tenced to death when a psy­chi­a­trist pre­sent­ed by his own lawyer said he posed a greater poten­tial dan­ger to soci­ety because he is Black, and the case attained wide­spread noto­ri­ety after the new Texas attor­ney gen­er­al failed to hon­or a com­mit­ment by his pre­de­ces­sor not to oppose a new sen­tenc­ing hearing.

Policy Issues

Race

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Sentencing Data

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Oct 04, 2017

Duane Buck, Whose Death Sentence Was Tainted by Racial Bias, Is Resentenced to Life

Duane Buck (pic­tured), the Texas death-row pris­on­er whose con­tro­ver­sial racial­ly taint­ed death sen­tence was reversed by the U.S Supreme Court in February, has been resen­tenced to life in prison. In a plea deal entered in a Harris County (Houston) court­room on October 3, Buck, who is 54, pled guilty to two new counts of attempt­ed mur­der that each car­ried terms of 60 years in prison to be served con­cur­rent­ly with two life sen­tences imposed on his cap­i­tal mur­der charges.

Policy Issues

Race

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United States Supreme Court

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Jun 09, 2017

Duane Buck’s Lawyer Discusses How Future Dangerousness Taints Texas Death Penalty System

Thirty years ago, film­mak­er Errol Morris, who direct­ed the doc­u­men­tary The Thin Blue Line,” helped to exon­er­ate Texas death-row pris­on­er Dale Adams, false­ly accused of mur­der­ing a police offi­cer. During the course of mak­ing the film, Morris met the noto­ri­ous Texas pros­e­cu­tion psy­chi­a­trist, Dr. James Grigson, who rou­tine­ly tes­ti­fied that cap­i­tal defen­dants — includ­ing the inno­cent Mr. Adams — posed a risk of future dangerousness.

Policy Issues

Arbitrariness

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Race

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Dec 08, 2016

Experts Say Texas’ Future Dangerousness Concept Is Based on Junk Science

Since 1973, juries in Texas have had to deter­mine whether a defen­dant presents a future dan­ger to soci­ety before impos­ing a death sen­tence. But while they have found that each of the 244 men and women cur­rent­ly on the state’s death row pos­es a con­tin­u­ing threat to soci­ety,” experts argue that juries can­not accu­rate­ly pre­dict a defen­dan­t’s future.

Policy Issues

Arbitrariness

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Race

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Aug 27, 2015

Federal Court Rejects Duane Buck Racial Bias Appeal

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit reject­ed an appeal in the case of Texas death row inmate Duane Buck, who argued that his tri­al was taint­ed by inef­fec­tive rep­re­sen­ta­tion and racial bias when Buck’s own men­tal health expert tes­ti­fied that he could be a future dan­ger to soci­ety because he is black.

Policy Issues

Arbitrariness

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Mar 09, 2017

LAW REVIEWS: Predictions of Future Dangerousness Contribute to Arbitrary Sentencing Decisions

In a new arti­cle for the Lewis & Clark Law Review, author Carla Edmondson argues that the future dan­ger­ous­ness inquiry that is implic­it in cap­i­tal setenc­ing deter­mi­na­tions is a fun­da­men­tal­ly flawed ques­tion that leads to arbi­trary and capri­cious death sen­tences” and because of the per­sis­tent influ­ence of future dan­ger­ous­ness … ren­ders the death penal­ty incom­pat­i­ble with the pro­hi­bi­tions of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments on cru­el and unusu­al punishment.”

Policy Issues

Arbitrariness

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New Voices

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Aug 08, 2017

Mark White, Former Governor of Texas and Death-Penalty Critic, Dies at 77

Mark White (offi­cial por­trait, pic­tured), a for­mer gov­er­nor and attor­ney gen­er­al of Texas who became an out­spo­ken crit­ic of the death penal­ty, died on August 5 at the age of 77. Mr. White served as gov­er­nor from 1983 to 1987, dur­ing which time he over­saw 19 exe­cu­tions. In an unsuc­cess­ful come­back bid in 1990, a cam­paign ad tout­ed his strong sup­port for the death penal­ty, fea­tur­ing pho­tos of the men exe­cut­ed dur­ing his tenure as gov­er­nor and declar­ing, Only a gov­er­nor can make exe­cu­tions hap­pen. I did and I will.”…

Policy Issues

Race

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United States Supreme Court

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Jun 28, 2017

New Podcast: Duane Buck’s Appeal Lawyer Tells Story of His Case, Discusses Future Dangerousness and Racial Bias

In DPIC’s lat­est pod­cast, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund Litigation Director Christina Swarns (pic­tured, cen­ter, out­side the U.S. Supreme Court fol­low­ing the argu­ment in Buck v. Davis) dis­cuss­es the issues of race, future dan­ger­ous­ness, and inef­fec­tive rep­re­sen­ta­tion pre­sent­ed in the land­mark case. She calls the case — in which a Texas tri­al lawyer who rep­re­sent­ed 21 clients sent to death row pre­sent­ed an expert wit­ness who tes­ti­fied that his own client was more like­ly to com­mit future acts of vio­lence because he is black — aston­ish­ing” and a com­plete fail­ure, lit­er­al­ly, of all…

Policy Issues

Race

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New Voices

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Sep 12, 2011

NEW VOICES: Former Texas Assistant District Attorney Now Wants to Halt Execution

Linda Geffin (pic­tured) was one of the Texas pros­e­cu­tors who won a con­vic­tion and death sen­tence for Duane Buck in 1997. She is now the divi­sion chief of the Special Prosecutions Unit in the Office of the Harris County Attorney, and she is urg­ing Gov. Rick Perry and oth­er state offi­cials to stop Buck’s September 15 exe­cu­tion because improp­er race evi­dence was put before the jury con­sid­er­ing his sen­tence. In a let­ter to state offi­cials, Geffin said that for­mer Texas Attorney General John Cornyn had pre­vi­ous­ly acknowl­edged the improp­er injection…

Policy Issues

Arbitrariness

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Race

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United States Supreme Court

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Sep 02, 2011

Only Texas Inmate Not Resentenced After Admittedly Racially Biased Testimony Faces Execution

Texas inmate Duane Buck (pic­tured) is one of sev­en death row inmates whose death sen­tences were taint­ed by improp­er racial tes­ti­mo­ny pre­sent­ed at their tri­als. In 2000, then-Texas Attorney General John Cornyn (now Senator) con­fessed the state’s error to the U.S. Supreme Court, not­ing that sev­en cas­es had been taint­ed by improp­er pros­e­cu­tion tes­ti­mo­ny. It is inap­pro­pri­ate to allow race to be con­sid­ered as a fac­tor in our crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem,” Cornyn said. The peo­ple of Texas want and deserve a sys­tem that affords the same fair­ness to every­one.” Six…

Policy Issues

Race

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Mar 14, 2013

RACE: New Study Shows Racial Bias in Seeking the Death Penalty in Harris County

A new study regard­ing the use of the death penal­ty in Harris County, Texas, was released in con­junc­tion with the fil­ing of an appeal by Harris County death row inmate, Duane Buck. The research was con­duct­ed by Professor Raymond Paternoster of the University of Maryland, who exam­ined over 500 mur­der cas­es in the coun­ty. The study found that, in cas­es with cir­cum­stances sim­i­lar to Buck’s and dur­ing the time in which he was tried, the Harris County District Attorney’s Office sought the death penal­ty 3.5 times more often when the…

Policy Issues

Innocence

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Race

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Recent Legislative Activity

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Apr 18, 2013

RECENT LEGISLATION: Texas Legislature Examining Problems of Innocence and Racial Bias

Two bills under con­sid­er­a­tion in Texas aim to address issues in the state’s death penal­ty. House Bill 2458 would allow defen­dants to appeal their death sen­tences if they can prove that race was a sig­nif­i­cant fac­tor in the deci­sion to seek or impose the death penal­ty. Statistical evi­dence of bias can be used to sup­port such a claim. Similar bills, referred to as the Racial Justice Act, have been con­sid­ered in oth­er states. Testimony in favor of the bill men­tioned the case of Duane Buck, an African American who was…

Policy Issues

Arbitrariness

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Mental Illness

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Apr 02, 2020

STUDIES — Junk Psychological Science Continues to Infect Death-Penalty Determinations

Courts are fail­ing bad­ly in keep­ing junk psy­cho­log­i­cal sci­ence out of the court­room in crim­i­nal cas­es, per­mit­ting the admis­sion of psy­cho­log­i­cal tests that have nev­er been reviewed for reli­a­bil­i­ty and oth­ers that have been found unre­li­able, a recent study reports. Among the prob­lem­at­ic tests, anoth­er group of psy­chol­o­gists write, is a psy­chopa­thy check­list” com­mon­ly used by pros­e­cu­tors to argue that a defen­dant pos­es a future dan­ger to soci­ety and should be sen­tenced to death.

Policy Issues

Race

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Representation

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United States Supreme Court

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Feb 22, 2017

Supreme Court Grants Relief to Duane Buck in Texas Racial Bias Death Penalty Case

Saying that the law pun­ish­es peo­ple for what they do, not who they are,” the Supreme Court on February 22, 2017, grant­ed relief to Duane Buck (pic­tured, right), a Texas death-row pris­on­er who was sen­tenced to death after his own lawyer pre­sent­ed tes­ti­mo­ny from a psy­chol­o­gist who told the jury Buck was more like­ly to com­mit future acts of vio­lence because he is black. Writing for the six-Justice major­i­ty, Chief Justice Roberts (pic­tured, left) said that “[d]ispensing pun­ish­ment on the basis of an immutable char­ac­ter­is­tic flat­ly con­tra­venes this guid­ing principle.”

Policy Issues

Arbitrariness

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Race

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Apr 15, 2016

Supreme Court to Consider Hearing Texas Capital Case Where Expert Said Defendant Posed Greater Danger Because He Was Black

UPDATE: The Supreme Court dock­et indi­cates that its con­fer­enc­ing of Mr. Buck’s case, orig­i­nal­ly set for April 22, has been resched­uled. The Court is now sched­uled to con­sid­er­ing the case on April 29. PREVIOUSLY: On April 22, the U.S. Supreme Court is sched­uled to con­fer on whether to review the case of Duane Buck (pic­tured), who was sen­tenced to death in Harris County, Texas after a psy­chol­o­gist tes­ti­fied that he posed an increased risk of future dan­ger­ous­ness because he is black. In the case, the defense pre­sent­ed psy­chol­o­gist, Walter Quijano,…

Policy Issues

Intellectual Disability

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Race

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United States Supreme Court

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Jun 06, 2016

Supreme Court To Hear Texas Death Penalty Cases Dealing with Racial Bias, Intellectual Disability

On June 6, the U.S. Supreme Court grant­ed writs of cer­tio­rari in two Texas death penal­ty cas­es, and will review the con­sti­tu­tion­al­i­ty of those death sen­tences dur­ing its next term. The two cas­es are Buck v. Stephens, in which Duane Buck was sen­tenced to death after a psy­chol­o­gist tes­ti­fied at his penal­ty tri­al that the fact that Buck is African-American increas­es the like­li­hood that he presents a future dan­ger to soci­ety; and Moore v. Texas, a chal­lenge to Texas’ unsci­en­tif­ic test for deter­min­ing whether a defen­dant is intel­lec­tu­al­ly dis­abled and…

Policy Issues

Mental Illness

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Race

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Feb 11, 2020

Texas Appeals Court Hears Argument that Incompetent Lawyering, Race Bias Infected Death Sentence of Man Who Gouged Out and Ate His Own Eye

Andre Thomas (pic­tured) is a Texas death-row pris­on­er riv­en with schiz­o­phre­nia so severe that, in sep­a­rate inci­dents, he gouged out both of his eyes and ate one of them. The U.S. Court of Appeals heard oral argu­ment on February 5, 2020, about whether his con­vic­tion and death sen­tence should be over­turned because his lawyers failed to present evi­dence that he was incom­pe­tent to be tried, failed to present mit­i­gat­ing evi­dence of Thomas’ exten­sive his­to­ry of men­tal ill­ness, and failed to object to the seat­ing of sev­er­al jurors whose ques­tion­naires exhibited…

Policy Issues

Arbitrariness

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Race

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Nov 20, 2013

Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Denies New Hearing for Duane Buck

In a 6 – 3 deci­sion on November 20, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals denied a request from death row inmate Duane Buck for a new sen­tenc­ing hear­ing, despite the fact that racial­ly prej­u­di­cial state­ments had been made dur­ing his tri­al. While the jury was being asked to con­sid­er if Buck would be a future dan­ger to soci­ety, a psy­chol­o­gist tes­ti­fied that African Americans com­mit a dis­pro­por­tion­ate num­ber of crim­i­nal offens­es. Buck’s case was one of sev­en iden­ti­fied in 2000 by then-Texas Attorney General John Cornyn in which tes­ti­mo­ny link­ing race…

Policy Issues

Arbitrariness

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Race

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Sentencing Data

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Feb 11, 2016

Texas Prisoner Seeks Supreme Court Review of Death Sentence Tainted By Racial Bias

Duane Buck, who was sen­tenced to death after a defense expert wit­ness tes­ti­fied that Buck could pose a future dan­ger to soci­ety because he is black, has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to grant him a new sen­tenc­ing hear­ing because of his lawyer’s inef­fec­tive­ness. Buck is one of six defen­dants whose Texas cap­i­tal tri­als were iden­ti­fied by a Texas Attorney General’s report as hav­ing been taint­ed by race-based tes­ti­mo­ny by psy­chol­o­gist, Dr. Walter Quijano. The oth­er five were grant­ed new sen­tenc­ing hear­ings after the Texas Attorney General agreed that the…

Policy Issues

Race

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Jun 28, 2017

The Duane Buck Case

Christina Swarns, lit­i­ga­tion direc­tor of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, speaks with DPIC Executive Director Robert Dunham about the case of Texas death-row pris­on­er Duane Buck and the impact of racial bias on deter­mi­na­tions of future dan­ger­ous­ness in death penal­ty cas­es. Ms. Swarns rep­re­sent­ed Mr. Buck in the U.S. Supreme Court in over­turn­ing his death sen­tence after his own lawyer pre­sent­ed an expert wit­ness who gave racial­ly biased tes­ti­mo­ny that Mr. Buck posed an increased risk of future dan­ger­ous­ness to soci­ety because he is black. Ms. Swarns discusses…

Policy Issues

Race

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United States Supreme Court

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Nov 08, 2011

U.S. Supreme Court Allows Racially Biased Testimony to Stand in Texas Case; Restores Capital Conviction in Ohio

On November 7, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to grant review to Texas inmate Duane Buck. Buck sought a new sen­tenc­ing tri­al because of tes­ti­mo­ny sug­gest­ing he posed a greater dan­ger to soci­ety because he is black. During his tri­al, psy­chol­o­gist Dr. Walter Quijano told the court that Buck’s race increased the like­li­hood of his future dan­ger­ous­ness. Three of the Justices on the Court (Alito, Scalia and Breyer), which had grant­ed Buck a stay just before his sched­uled exe­cu­tion on September 15, said his case was dif­fer­ent from oth­er similar…

Policy Issues

Innocence

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Representation

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United States Supreme Court

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Executions Overview

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Sep 21, 2011

U.S. Supreme Court Halts Execution For Third Time in a Year

Desert Storm vet­er­an Cleve Foster (pic­tured), who faced exe­cu­tion in Texas for the third time this year for a mur­der near­ly a decade ago, was grant­ed anoth­er stay by the U.S. Supreme Court on September 20. The Supreme Court stopped Foster’s exe­cu­tion twice before in 2011. In January, six hours before his sched­uled exe­cu­tion, the Justices grant­ed a reprieve to allow them more time to con­sid­er his appeal. In April, the Court again halt­ed his exe­cu­tion when his lawyers sought a rehear­ing, claim­ing that Foster was inno­cent and had ineffective…

Policy Issues

Arbitrariness

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Race

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United States Supreme Court

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Oct 06, 2016

U.S. Supreme Court Hears Argument in Buck v. Davis, Texas Case Dealing With Racist Testimony

The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral argu­ment on October 5 in Buck v. Davis, a Texas case in which Duane Buck was sen­tenced to death after his own lawyer pre­sent­ed expert tes­ti­mo­ny from a psy­chol­o­gist who called Buck more like­ly to com­mit acts of vio­lence in the future because he is Black.