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Supreme Court Stays Duane Buck Execution

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September 16, 2011

Great news! Last night, the Supreme Court granted a last-minute stay to Duane Buck, who was hours away from his scheduled execution in Texas. We now await a decision from the court as to whether it will review his case, and the claims that race played an improper role in his death sentence.

We think it’s pretty clear that it did. The ACLU’s Brian Stull blogged earlier this month about this case:

In Texas, imposing the death penalty in capital cases comes down to one question: is the defendant going to be a “future danger” if he or she is not executed? Mr. Buck was sentenced to die based on testimony by Dr. Walter Quijano, who told jurors that Mr. Buck was more likely to pose a future danger to society because he is black. Dr. Quijano’s testimony came in 1997, more than 20 years after Texas promised the Supreme Court that “no correlation exists between the race/ethnic background of a defendant and the probability that he will be either convicted of capital murder or given the death penalty.”

Buck’s attorney, Kate Black of the Texas Defender Service, said in a statement last night:

“We are relieved that the U.S. Supreme Court recognized the obvious injustice of allowing a defendant’s race to factor into sentencing decisions and granted a stay of execution to Duane Buck. No one should be put to death based on the color of his or her skin. We are confident that the Court will agree that our client is entitled to a fair sentencing hearing that is untainted by considerations of his race.”

Thank you to everyone who took action and sent a message to the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles and Gov. Rick Perry. We hope the Supreme Court will grant Duane Buck a new sentencing hearing. As Linda Geffin, who helped prosecute Buck in his 1997 trial wrote to Texas Gov. Rick Perry and the Board of Pardons and Paroles last Friday: “No individual should be executed without being afforded a fair trial, untainted by considerations of race.”

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