On Wednesday The Supreme Court has issued a new court hearing for an African American Texas man, Duane Buck, who is in prison on death row. The inmate claimed that due to improper testimony concerning his ethnicity played a part in his death sentence.
A vote amongst the justices resulted in a 6-2 voting in favor of Buck. This is exciting news for Buck, who had attempted for years to get the attention of the federal courts to examine his views concerning the violation of his rights. The violation occurred when a defense expert witness spoke to jurors claiming that he would be more dangerous in the future because he was an African-American man.
Back in 1995, Buck was on trial for killing his ex-girlfriend and another man. Buck’s case was among the six in 2000 that had to be reopened, according to the then-Texas Attorney General John Cornyn. Cornyn stated that Dr. Walter Quijano’s statements during some of the trials were racially charged. The other five cases were reopened and each of the convicts, the outcome was the exact same, the death penalty.
One of the issues that Texas jurors must consider during a death penalty trial is if the defendant will be a future danger to the public.
In regards to Dr. Quijano’s testimony, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote, “was potent evidence. Dr. Quijano’s testimony appealed to a powerful racial stereotype – that of black men as ‘violence prone.’”
“Having settled on a desired outcome, the court bulldozes procedural obstacles and misapplies settled law to justify it,” Justice Clarence Thomas said.
Buck’s lawyers faced a challenge by the attorney general, which was Cornyn’s successor’s, Greg Abbott. According to CBS News, Abbott apparently broke a promise by choosing to challenge Buck’s case. However, But the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals came to the conclusion that there was no record indicating that the state made a mistake.