The Supreme Court halted the execution of Texas prisoner, Duane Buck, on Thursday. While his lawyers are not disputing Buck’s guilt, they argue that the 1997 testimony by a psychologist claiming that blacks are more likely to pose threats to the public in the future unfairly influenced the jury.
Kate Black, one of Buck’s defense attorneys:
“No one should be put to death based on the 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”.
As evidenced by last Wednesday’s Republic Presidential Debate, Rick Perry’s celebration of capital punishment is echoed by much of this country. What’s more, TNR editors say that most liberals have long since abandoned their fight to abolish the death penalty in light of more polarizing domestic issues. Given the Supreme Court’s swift response, should Rick Perry be worried about how this affects his campaign and his longstanding belief in the “ultimate justice”?
Courtesy of Salon.com
The issue at hand isn’t Buck’s innocence, but the means by which his death sentence was obtained. Prosecutors firmly established Buck’s guilt, but to secure a capital punishment conviction in Texas they needed to prove “future dangerousness”—that is, provide compelling evidence that Buck posed a serious threat to society if he were ever to walk free. They did so in part with the testimony of a psychologist, Dr. Walter Quijano, who testified that Buck’s race (he’s African-American) made him more likely to commit crimes in the future. (Quijano answered in the affirmative to the question of whether “the race factor, [being] black, increases the future dangerousness for various complicated reasons.”)