During Mr. Buck’s trial, the prosecutor elicited improper testimony from Dr. Walter Quijano that the fact that Mr. Buck was African-American increased the likelihood of his being dangerous in the future. (In Texas, a jury must make a finding of future dangerousness as a prerequisite for a death sentence.) The State urged the jury in its closing argument to rely on Dr. Quijano’s testimony. The jury did so, found that Mr. Buck would be a future danger, and he was sentenced to death.
After Mr. Buck’s trial, on June 9, 2000, in a highly-unusual move, then-Attorney General John Cornyn issued a press release calling for the retrial of six individuals who had been sentenced to death based on improper introduction of, and reliance on, race as a factor in sentencing. Mr. Cornyn identified Mr. Buck’s case as one of those six cases. Then-Attorney General (now Senator) Cornyn stated that Texas would not contest federal appeals in those six cases and that if the attorneys for the six identified defendants amended their appeals to include objections to Dr. Quijano’s testimony, the Attorney General would not object.
In the other five cases, courts granted new sentencing trials to the inmates to allow them fair trials untainted by consideration of race.
Mr. Buck’s case has slipped through the cracks. Mr. Buck is the only one of the six death row inmates identified by the Attorney General who was not granted an opportunity to have a colorblind sentencing. Mr. Buck now faces execution on September 15, 2011.
On August 31, counsel for Mr. Buck filed a clemency petition asking the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles and Governor Perry to intervene. In it, attorneys for Mr. Buck state: “Five out of the six cases in which Attorney General John Cornyn conceded error resulted in new sentencing hearings. Mr. Buck has not received the same corrective process. The State of Texas cannot and should not tolerate an execution on the basis of an individual’s race, particularly where this State’s highest legal officer has acknowledged the error, not only in similarly situated cases, but in this case.”
If Mr. Buck is executed, not only will Texas have violated the constitution, it will have violated its citizens’ basic moral values by permitting an execution to be carried out that is based on an individual’s race. Please join the efforts to obtain clemency for Duane Buck by signing this petition. Your voice will not go unheard.