An inmate on death row may have an opportunity for another appeal after a psychologist told the jury he was more violent because he was black.
Duane Buck was convicted in 1995 for murdering his ex-girlfriend and another man in her apartment in Texas. The 51 year old has been on death row since the conviction, but now his lawyers are pushing for an additional appeal because of the racial comment made by a psychologist, arguing the jury was unfairly influenced.
The psychologist, Walter Quijano, testified in 2011 during a different trial. While getting cross-examined by the prosecutor, he was asked, “You have determined that the sex factor, that a male is more violent than a female because that’s just the way it is, and that the race factor, black increases the future dangerousness for various complicated reasons; is that correct?”
“Yes,” Quijano responded.
Buck’s attorneys appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court and Texas Governor Rick Perry to get Buck off death row because of the racial remark. Since then, the execution has been paused while the Supreme Court reviews the case.
In the meantime, a documentary has been made about the racial remark called “A Broken Promise in Texas: Race, the Death Penalty and the Duane Buck Case.”
“It’s a stunning and outrageous case,” said Christina Swarns, director of the criminal justice project for the NAACP legal defense fund, in the documentary. “You have someone condemned to die because he is African American.”
Though Buck is undoubtedly condemned to die because he is a murderer, the racial comment does pose a problem for society to believe one race may be more dangerous than others. Biological differences in propensity for violence can be proven according to gender, but racial differences in violence can be attributed mostly — if not all — to societal factors, such as single-parent households, neighborhoods, and socioeconomic conditions.
Regardless of the racial remark, Buck should be punished according to the severity of his crimes, as the Supreme Court will undoubtedly find.