Race-based death sentence rejected at US Supreme Court [CNA]

http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/images/size340/Outside_17_of_the_Supreme_Court_in_Washington_DC_during_the_courts_ruling_in_favor_of_legalizing_gay_marriage_on_June_26_2015_Credit_Addie_Mena_CNA_6_26_15.jpgWashington D.C., Feb 23, 2017 / 02:34 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- A death row inmate in Texas deserves a new sentencing hearing because his own lawyers called on an expert who claimed he was more likely to be dangerous because he is black, the U. S. Supreme Court has said.

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the majority opinion in the Feb. 22 decision in Buck v. Davis, saying: “When a jury hears expert testimony that expressly makes a defendant’s race directly pertinent on the question of life or death, the impact of that evidence cannot be measured simply by how much air time it received at trial or how many pages it occupies in the record. Some toxins can be deadly in small doses.”

The man sentenced to death, Duane Buck, was convicted for two 1995 murders, which included killing his ex-girlfriend in front of her children. He also shot his step-sister at close range.

Buck will now be able to argue before a lower court that he should have a new sentencing hearing.

The 6-2 ruling was dissented from by Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito.

The case before the Supreme Court did not argue for Buck’s innocence, but emphasized his attorneys’ handling of the sentencing hearing, which considered whether Buck met the standard for “future dangerousness,” CNN reports.

Dr. Walter Quijano, a psychologist retained by Buck’s own defense attorneys, spoke at the sentencing hearing and claimed that the fact that Buck was black “increased the probability” he would commit future acts of violence.

Texas law allowed the jury to impose capital punishment only if it found unanimously and beyond a reasonable doubt that Buck was likely to commit acts of violence in the future.

Texas Solicitor General Scott Keller defended the sentence before the high court. He said Quijano’s testimony played a limited role at the trial. Other evidence of his future dangerousness cited the brutality of the murders, his lack of remorse, and the testimony of an ex-girlfriend.

During oral arguments, Alito said the race-related testimony was “indefensible” and “bizarre.”

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg asked “What competent counsel would put that evidence before a jury?”

In the dissenting opinion, Thomas said the lower courts had followed proper standards in upholding the sentence, National Public Radio reports. He added that the jury that sentenced Buck had sufficient reasons to recommend a death sentence on grounds other than Quijano’s comments.

Thomas wrote that “Having settled on a desired outcome, the Court bulldozes procedural obstacles and misapplies settled law to justify it.”


Full article…

I appreciate the article clarifying the justice’s statements.

None of them were in favor of race being a factor.

It is quite shocking though that this counsel would be brought and advised, as Justice Ginsburg noted.

I pray for the end of the death penalty in the 21st century.

I am generally (though not completely) against capital punishment. I agree with Pope Pius XI about the non-existence of race. I think that’s a better way to see people. We’re all human. I don’t know enough about the case to have an opinion.

I guess keep praying because the political party currently in power, the Republican, actually condemns the erosion of capital punishment. While the Democratic Party called for its abolishment saying it has no place in the US. And CCC says if there are non-lethal means sufficient to defend and protect people’s safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and are more in conformity to the dignity of the human person. It goes on to say "today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm - without definitely taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself - the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity “are very rare, if not practically non-existent.”



There needs to be some perspective here. The political party previously in power condemns barriers against intentional murder of innocent human beings. More innocent children are murdered every single **day **in the US than convicted criminals have been killed by the death penalty since 1976.

This isn’t to say that the death penalty is acceptable. But if you are going to try to make this a Republican vs Democrat issue, it’s pretty clear which party has more blood on their hands.

I’ve been around here long enough to assume you might be speaking about the Catholic view on another issue. In the words of another poster though, lets keep the discussion to the issues and this thread is about death sentences for persons born.


The moral authority of the Democrats to speak out against the death penalty is non-existent when they clearly advocate for the murder of the most innocent among us. You brought up the Republican/Democrat comparison. I’m merely pointing out the complete hypocrisy of the Democrats.

If the Democrats refuse to defend the lives of the most innocent among us, how can anyone take their defense of the lives of those convicted of crimes seriously?

But your deflection is noted. And duly ignored.

Apparently the attorney defended 36 death penalty cases and lost them all. I’m not totally sure of the situations but that’s a pretty bad record, it’s common (I believe much more common) to get death sentences overturned to lesser sentences like life in prison.

As is yours.

It’s perfectly Catholic to think the death penalty is fine, or should be expanded.

We can continue this tit-for-tat, but I wasn’t the one who tried to claim the Democrats were the anti-death party.

Capital punishment is not against Catholic doctrine, although it should be noted that Fr. JPII and Fr. Francis both opposed the application of capital punishment when other alternatives exist.

I am not Catholic, but I still trust their judgement, in addition to my own church’s position being pro-abolition (prior to abolition of capital punishment in Canada in 1976).

If you’re going to hold Catholic views on abortion, that’s fine. But then lets at least not pretend only the Democrats are the party of death. And no I don’t wish to continue this tit for tat on this thread about a death sentence for a Texan man.

Did you read CCC 2267? No one is saying capital punishment in very rare, if not nonexistent cases, is against CC teaching. But the Catholic Church sure seems to limit it beyond the Republican platform of condemning its erosion.

Yes, I have read 2267, and I know that Fr. Francis suggests that the application of capital punishment is unnecessary in today’s society as a means of preventing further harm. On this I am in agreement.

I was simply noting that the CC does not officially call for abolition of capital punishment, although many clergymen do support its abolition.

Who did? I said perspective. Democrats support far more destruction of life, by multiple orders of magnitude.

Then I suggest you leave the politics out of it. I find it very hard to believe the Democrats give two rat farts about capital punishment when they don’t care about innocent, helpless children.

What specific platform are you referring to? Here (-ben_1468872234.pdf) is a link to the 2016 Republican platform. With respect to capital punishment, here’s what it says:
The constitutionality of the death penalty is firmly settled by its explicit mention in the Fifth Amendment. With the murder rate soaring in our great cities, we condemn the Supreme Court’s erosion of the right of the people to enact capital punishment in their states. In solidarity with those who protect us, we call for mandatory prison time for all assaults involving serious injury to law enforcement officers.
How exactly does this go beyond CCC 2267?

I am in total agreement!

To accept this would mean throwing out the CCC’s clear statements in reference to only applying the death penalty when all other reasonable measures for containing a dangerous criminal are insufficient. The CCC states that instances in which the death penalty may be applied “are very rare, if not practically nonexistent.” There is no reason that this will change in the future.


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