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Duane Buck: Racial Prejudice Case to Go Before Supreme Court

Image: Duane Buck: Racial Prejudice Case to Go Before Supreme Court

This undated photo provided by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice shows death row inmate Duane Buck. (Texas Department of Criminal Justice via AP)

By    |   Thursday, 06 Oct 2016 11:03 AM

Duane Buck received a hearing before the Supreme Court on Wednesday on whether he faced racial prejudice during a death sentencing hearing after he was found guilty in Texas of killing an ex-girlfriend and another man in 1995.

Buck was sentenced to death row after psychologist Walter Quijano testified that Buck was generally not violent but was more likely to commit violent acts in the future because he is African-American, National Public Radio reported.

The state conceded that Quijano erred in another case involving similar testimony where the psychologist connected race and violence that reached the Supreme Court in 2000, NPR noted. The state pledged then to allow seven other cases involving Quijano's testimony to seek appeals for new sentencing.

That happened in all but the Buck case, and he appealed with new attorneys from the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, NPR wrote. Those attorneys appealed a decision from the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that refused Buck's request to reopen the case, according to The Associated Press.

Texas Solicitor General Scott Keller defended the appellate ruling, citing Wednesday that there was plenty of other evidence to support Buck's death sentence. Keller argued, according to NBC News, that "the horrific facts of the offense" and Buck's lack of remorse, were overwhelming.

But the usually divided Supreme Court appeared to be nearly unanimous in questioning Buck's sentencing, wrote The AP.

"What occurred at the penalty phase is indefensible," Justice Samuel Alito said at one time during the hearing, the AP noted.

Kathryn Kase, of the Texas Defender Service, argued that Quijano's testimony was emblematic of the way African-Americans are viewed in the criminal justice system, NBC News said.

"This stereotype, that black men are more dangerous, is animating our entire public discussion these days," Kase said, per NBC News. "It's now up to this court to say, that's enough."

Buck's attorneys also took issue with Fifth Circuit, charging that it refused to grant certificates of appeal in 60 percent of its cases, versus a six percent refusal rate in the neighboring 11th Circuit, and no refusals in the Fourth Circuit, NPR noted. Those circuits cover the southern states.

A decision on the case is expected before late June, NBC News said.

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Duane Buck received a hearing before the Supreme Court on Wednesday on whether he faced racial prejudice during a death sentencing hearing after he was found guilty in Texas of killing an ex-girlfriend and another man in 1995.
duane buck, racial prejudice, supreme court
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2016-03-06
Thursday, 06 Oct 2016 11:03 AM
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