Thursday, February 23, 2017

Texan Duane Buck - Headed for Death Row - Gets Justice at the Supreme Court

Despite Pleas of Justice Clarence to Kill Him

Texas sends a lot of people to death, and Duane Buck was no exception.  In his case however in the penalty phase of his trial he had an expert witness, who incredibly testified against him.  From the decision.

"Petitioner Duane Buck was convicted of capital murder in a Texas court. Under state law, the jury was permitted to impose a death sentence only if it found unanimously and beyond a reasonable doubt that Buck was likely to commit acts of violence in the future. Buck’s attorney called a psychologist, Dr. Walter Quijano, to offer his opinion on that issue. Dr. Quijano had been appointed to evaluate Buck by the presiding judge and had prepared a report setting out his conclusions. To determine the likelihood that Buck would act violently in the future, Dr. Quijano had considered a number of statistical factors, including Buck’s race. Although Dr. Quijano ultimately concluded that Buck was unlikely to be a future danger, his report also stated that Buck was statistically more likely to act violently because he is black. The report read, in relevant part: “Race. Black: Increased probability.” 

Ok, so that's someone Buck's attorney would keep from testifying. But no.

"Despite knowing the contents of the report, Buck’s counsel called Dr. Quijano to the stand, where he testified that race is a factor “know[n] to predict future dangerousness.” Id., at 146a. Dr. Quijano’s report was admitted into evidence at the close of his testimony. The prosecution questioned Dr. Quijano about his conclusions on race and violence during cross-examination, and it relied on his testimony in summation. During deliberations, the jury requested and received the expert reports admitted into evidence, including Dr. Quijano’s. The jury returned a sentence of death."

The case reached the Supreme Court that found

"Buck’s trial counsel knew that Dr. Quijano’s report reflected the view that Buck’s race predisposed him to violent conduct and that the principal point of dispute during the penalty phase was Buck’s future dangerousness. Counsel nevertheless called Dr. Quijano to the stand, specifically elicited testimony about the connection between race and violence, and put Dr. Quijano’s report into evidence. No competent defense attorney would introduce evidence that his client is liable to be a future danger because of his race."

And so Buck may not be executed despite the efforts of his attorney to get him killed by Texas.

Of course dissenting was Clarence Thomas (with Alito) who just loves for state to kill disadvantaged accused.  The idea that his own attorney worked against Mr. Buck plays no role in justice for Thomas.

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