Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law Response to U.S. Supreme Court Ruling in Buck v. Davis
Court Ruling Grants New Sentencing Hearing for Duane Buck
The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law issued the following statement regarding today’s Supreme Court decision in Buck v. Davis:
“Whether or not to impose the death sentence on a criminal defendant is the gravest task that a jury is called upon to perform,” said Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law President and Executive Director Kristen Clarke. “Today’s Supreme Court decision in Buck v. Davis confirms that racial discrimination infects every level of our criminal justice system, including decisions about whether or not to impose a life or death sentence. In this case, rather than presenting an individualized view of Mr. Buck at his sentencing hearing, the prosecutor relied squarely on an ‘expert’ report that stereotyped African Americans as dangerous and violent-prone. The Court’s ruling today makes clear that race threatens the integrity of our criminal justice system but also casts further doubt on the continuing fairness of the death penalty as a form of punishment in our country.”
The Lawyers’ Committee and Jones Day, LLP filed an amicus curiae, “friend of the court,” brief in the Supreme Court of the United States in the case of Buck v. Davis. The case involves the question of whether the Fifth Circuit improperly denied Duane Buck, a death row inmate, the right to appeal when his trial defense counsel knowingly presented an “expert” who testified that Buck was more likely to be dangerous in the future because he is African American, where future dangerousness was the central issue at sentencing. The Lawyers’ Committee’s brief was filed in support of Mr. Buck and argued that the expert’s testimony, combined with a deeply engrained stereotype of “blacks as criminal,” tainting the jury’s decision approach to the sentencing phase of the trial. Mr. Buck was represented by the NAACP LDF, along with the Texas Defender Service and Holland & Knight, LLP.
This release was published on the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law's website on February 22, 2017.
A civil right is an enforceable right or privilege, which if interfered with by another gives rise to an action for injury. Examples of civil rights are freedom of speech, press, and assembly; the right to vote; freedom from involuntary servitude; and the right to equality in public places. Discrimination occurs when the civil rights of an individual are denied or interfered with because of their membership in a particular group or class. Various jurisdictions have enacted statutes to prevent discrimination based on a person's race, sex, religion, age, previous condition of servitude, physical limitation, national origin, and in some instances sexual orientation.
Source: Cornell University Law School