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 – narrated by former Texas Governor Mark White and featuring interviews with Texas civil rights leaders, legislators, the surviving victim in Mr. Buck’s case, one of the trial prosecutors, and Mr. Buck’s family members – exposes the outrageous discrimination in Mr. Buck’s case.
Watch “A Broken Promise in Texas: Race, the Death Penalty and the Duane Buck Case” today and share it with your social media networks.
The video’s release comes at a critical juncture as Mr. Buck awaits a ruling from the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals on his petition for a new, fair sentencing hearing.
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 relied on this testimony in arguing in favor of a death sentence. The jury then found 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, including Mr. Buck’s. The Attorney General promised not to oppose new sentencing hearings for these seven defendants. Texas upheld this promise in all of the cases – except for Mr. Buck’s.
It is high time for Texas to keep its promise and ensure that Mr. Buck receives the fair, colorblind sentencing that all defendants deserve.