TX: Duane Buck: what happens next?
Sun Aug 11, 2013 12:37

Duane Buck: what happens next?

Duane Buck was granted a 30-day reprieve in Texas on Thursday night, but a series of legal obstacles remains before his execution is commuted to a life sentence

Dominic Rushe in New York, Friday 16 September 2011 21.40 BST

Texas death row
Duane Buck's case is likely to go before the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles. Photograph: Per-Anders Pettersson/Getty Images

Duane Buck, who has spent the last 16 years on death row in Texas, narrowly avoided lethal injection on Thursday. Now he must await another tense standoff as his lawyers attempt to have his execution commuted to a life sentence.

Buck was granted a 30-day reprieve this week, in a case that put the spotlight on Texas governor and would-be Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry. Perry refused to act on the case, which has been criticised for the involvement of a controversial psychologist who said Buck's being black could contribute to his "future dangerousness".

Now Buck's lawyers have asked the supreme court to look at the case, but legal experts believe it will eventually come back to Perry.

In order for the supreme court to hear the case, the nine justices have to vote to take it on, and a majority of five votes are needed. Buck's lawyers will ask for a petition of certiorari – known as a cert petition. Most cert petitions are denied, said Michael Radelet, a death penalty expert and sociology professor at the University of Colorado.

If the supreme court does grant the hearing, it will ask for briefs from both sides, and then listen to oral arguments in Washington. A decision could be expected before 30 June 2012, when the supreme court adjourns. As Buck is not challenging his guilt, the most he could hope for is life without parole, said Radelet.

But it is more than likely that the supreme court will not hear Buck's case, in which case his lawyers will ask for a clemency hearing. In Texas, such hearings are held by the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles, which has already rejected Buck's bid to have his death sentence commuted to life in prison. Perry appoints the board's members.

The board will then make a recommendation to Perry. Radelet said: "There are three factors that Perry will take into consideration. No1 is politics, No2 is politics, and No3 is politics."

He said that Perry's staunch support for the death penalty had won him a lot of favour with Tea Party members, but that it could cause problems in the future. "When it came up that he had presided over 234 executions at the Tea Party debate the other night, people applauded, but capital punishment may well come back and bite Perry in the ass," said Radelet.

He pointed to the case of Cameron Willingham, who was convicted of the murder of his three young children and executed on Perry's orders in 2004. Willingham was found guilty of murder by arson, but subsequent investigations have cast doubt on the arson claims. Perry has also been accused of impeding an investigation into the case, a charge he denies.

"His championing of the death penalty might play well withh the right wing, but with the broader electorate a case like that is likely to cause problems," said Radelet.

In 1997, Buck was found guilty of the murder of his former girlfriend, Debra Gardner. At his trial defence, psychologist Walter Quijano said Buck's colour made him more of a threat, a factor juries have to take into consideration when sentencing.

Buck's case was one of six identified in 2000 by then Texas attorney general John Cornyn that may have been tainted by Quijano's testimony. "It is inappropriate to allow race to be considered as a factor in our criminal justice system," Cornyn said at the time.

In the other five cases, all involving capital murders, federal courts ordered new hearings for the killers. Once again they were all sentenced to death.

  • Texas inmate whose execution stopped at last minute loses appeal to US Supreme Court • THE ASSOCIATED PRESS • First Posted: January 09, 2012 - 11:50 am Last Updated: January 09, 2012 - 11:50 am... more
    • TX: Duane Buck: what happens next? — Petra, Sun Aug 11 12:37
      • Race and the Death Penalty in Texas By THE EDITORIAL BOARD - The New York Times APRIL 2, 2016 This month, the Supreme Court will consider whether to hear the appeal of Duane Buck, a black man from... more
        • Re: Duane Buck -Race and the Death Penalty in TexasDudley Sharp, Mon Apr 4 13:27
          Sent to the NYT Editorial Board and 15 NYT reporters. columnists In a message dated 4/3/2016 11:28:10 A.M. Central Daylight Time, writes: To: LETTERS How Irresponsible Can The NYT... more
          • DUANE BUCK TOOK A PLEA DEAL OF LIFE/WITH PAROLE TODAY (4.10.2017) Texas death row inmate Duane Buck has sentence reduced to life after Supreme Court orders retrial Duane Buck, whose death sentence in ... more
            • PetraPetra., Fri Oct 6 13:36
      • Nov. 20, 2013 TEXAS COURTS Appeal dismissed in death row case with racial backdrop by Chuck Lindell The state’s highest criminal court Wednesday dismissed an appeal by death row inmate Duane Buck,... more
      • WEDNESDAY, NOV 20, 2013 08:51 PM CET Texas court denies appeal to death sentence determined by race Testimony from a psychologist in 1997 said Duane Buck posed a risk to society because he was black... more
        • Race no factorDudley Sharp, Fri Nov 22 05:54
          To show how much race was not a part of any of these cases, all six of those cases were given new punishment phase trials, all six returned with unanimous death penalties, requiring a 72-0 vote (12... more
        • Salon story completely falsedudley sharp, Fri Nov 22 05:36
          The story is ccompletely false. Buck was sentenced to death for two attempted capital murders and two capital murders, which were all premeditated, murdering his ex wife in front of their two... more
          • In a lengthy dissent, Judge Elsa Alcala, joined by Judges Tom Price and Cheryl Johnson, noted that Buck's case was not only infected by racial animus but also by deficient lawyering that failed to... more
            • Racial bias was addressed. Did you not read the opinion? Alcala writes: "As to (Buck's) second claim (based upon racism) , I conclude that (Buck) has failed to make out a prima facie case for... more
              • Do you know about the 3 reasons you've had to die for in Texas in a capital case ? At least one is, the court needs someone who tells the jury, the guy is a further dangerous for the society .... or? ... more
                • Why future danger should be bannedDudley Sharp, Thu Nov 28 14:05
                  We know that all violent criminals have some probability of future danger. So what? Proving future danger is an added burden on the prosecutor and provides an additional avenue on appeal for the... more
                  • Re: Why future danger should be bannedPetra., Thu Nov 28 14:18
                    Yes I know you want ban all a civil society sees as murder by the state - we call it lynching .... revenge --- just an eye for an eye because you can't handle a lost. You teach killing is ok,... more
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