Supreme Court Declines to Halt Execution of Texas Inmate Duane Buck

<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/rickperry/4309324433/sizes/z/in/set-72157623172356711/">Rick Perry</a>/Flickr

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.


On Monday, the US Supreme Court rejected a writ of certiorari to reconsider the case of Texas death row inmate Duane Buck, meaning that unless the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles intervenes (it hasn’t in the past) Buck’s execution will continue as planned.

Buck was sentenced to death in 1997 for the murder of his ex-girlfriend and a male acquaintance, but while he freely admits to his guilt, the point of contention is how his death sentence was obtained. The prosecutor in the case relied in part on the testimony of a defense-summoned psychologist who argued that Buck’s race (he’s black) made him more likely to commit violent acts in the future. Which is to say, he would be a threat if allowed to live in prison, or if he were ever given the chance of parole. Sen. John Cornyn (R), then Texas’ attorney general, included Buck’s in a list of cases that had been improperly decided—but Buck’s case was the only one that didn’t result in a re-trial. The Supreme Court granted a temporary injunction in October to give themselves time to decide whether to review the case.

Buck’s lead attorney, Kate Black of the Texas Defender Service, said her team is still considering its options going forward. Those include petitioning the Supreme Court for a re-hearing or requesting the state court to intervene. The Harris County district attorney now has the authority to request a new death warrant from the trial court. Texas law requires that the execution date be at least 31 days after the warrant is obtained, and with the upcoming holidays, that could further delay things. Once an execution date is set, Buck’s lawyers would have the chance to file a petition for clemency with the Texas Board of Prisons and Paroles, which will have an opportunity to recommend a new trial if it wishes (it’s already rejected that plea once).

Gov. Rick Perry plays a background role in all of this. “Our hope is the district attorney also has an interest in waiting at least to see what happens,” Black said. “If the district attorney does decide to set a new date it’ll go through the clemency process again and Governor Perry is obviously a part of that process.” Perry has the power to grant a one-time only 30-day stay of execution but has no power beyond that. He does, however, exert a good deal of influence on the Board of Pardons and Paroles, whose members are appointed by his office.

TIME IS RUNNING OUT!

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and it's truly crunch time: About 15 percent of our yearly online giving usually comes in during the final week of the year, and in "No Cute Headlines or Manipulative BS," we explain why we simply can't afford to come up short right now.

The bottom line: Corporations and powerful people with deep pockets will never sustain the type of journalism Mother Jones exists to do. And advertising or profit-driven ownership groups will never make time-intensive, in-depth reporting viable.

That's why donations big and small make up 74 percent of our budget this year. There is no backup to keep us going, no alternate revenue source, no secret benefactor. If readers don’t donate, we won’t be here. It's that simple.

And if you can help us out with a donation right now, all online gifts will be matched thanks to an incredibly generous matching gift pledge.

payment methods

TIME IS RUNNING OUT!

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and it's truly crunch time: About 15 percent of our yearly online giving usually comes in during the final week of the year, and in "No Cute Headlines or Manipulative BS," we explain why we simply can't afford to come up short right now.

The bottom line: Corporations and powerful people with deep pockets will never sustain the type of journalism Mother Jones exists to do. And advertising or profit-driven ownership groups will never make time-intensive, in-depth reporting viable.

That's why donations big and small make up 74 percent of our budget this year. There is no backup to keep us going, no alternate revenue source, no secret benefactor. If readers don’t donate, we won’t be here. It's that simple.

And if you can help us out with a donation right now, all online gifts will be matched thanks to an incredibly generous matching gift pledge.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate