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Texas, Keep Your Promise: Grant Duane Buck a New, Fair Sentencing Hearing

By       Message Claire Callahan     Permalink
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opednews.com Headlined to H3 6/12/13

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Racial bias has no place in the administration of justice -- tell that to Harris County, Texas. Duane Buck, sentenced to death in Harris County in 1997, may soon be at risk of execution despite the fact that his death sentence is the clear product of racial discrimination.

A powerful new video exposes the appalling discrimination in Mr. Buck's capital case. Take a moment to watch "A Broken Promise in Texas: Race, the Death Penalty and the Duane Buck Case"   It is ten minutes of time well spent.

As the video shows, at Mr. Buck's 1997 capital sentencing hearing in Harris County, the trial prosecutor elicited testimony from a psychologist that Mr. Buck posed a future danger because he is black. The prosecutor placed great emphasis on this testimony in arguing in favor of a death sentence. Consequently, the jury found that Mr. Buck would be a future danger and sentenced him to death.  

Three years later, then-Texas Attorney General (now U.S. Senator) John Cornyn identified seven cases in which Texas improperly relied on testimony linking race to future dangerousness -- one of which was Mr. Buck's. The Attorney General promised not to oppose new sentencing hearings for these seven defendants. Incredibly, Texas upheld this promise in each of the cases -- except for Mr. Buck's.

Clearly, it is high time for Texas to keep its promise and grant Mr. Buck the fair, colorblind sentencing that all defendants are entitled to. The injustice in his case has gone on for sixteen years. This mistake must be corrected before it is too late.

Not surprisingly, Mr. Buck's shocking case has prompted outcry from the civil rights community, faith leaders, elected officials, and numerous other prominent individuals in Texas and across the country. Even one of Mr. Buck's trial prosecutors and the surviving victim in the case support a new, fair sentencing hearing.  

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Tens of thousands of people from Texas and nationwide have also joined the chorus of support by signing an online petition urging the Harris County District Attorney's Office not to seek an execution date for Mr. Buck. The petition can be signed at: https://www.change.org/petitions/sentenced-to-death-because-he-is-black-grant-duane-buck-a-new-hearing

Additional background information is available at: http://www.naacpldf.org/case-issue/duane-buck-sentenced-death-because-he-black

A new sentencing hearing for Mr. Buck is essential to the integrity of our entire justice system. We must not tolerate sending a man to his death based on the color of his skin.

Now it's your turn. Tell Texas to uphold the promise made by former Attorney General John Cornyn and grant Duane Buck a sentencing free of the stain of racial bias. 

Sign the Change.org Petition

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B.A. Law and Society, American University (2012) Washington, DC

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Texas, Keep Your Promise: Grant Duane Buck a New, Fair Sentencing Hearing