|TDS Press Releases|
More Than 100 Civil Rights Leaders, Elected Officials, Clergy, Former Prosecutors and Judges, Past ABA Presidents, and a Former TX Governor Call for New, Fair Sentencing for Duane BuckNAACP Calls Mr. Buck’s Death Penalty Case a “Blatant Example of Racial Bias”
March 20, 2013
(Houston, Texas; March 20,2013) Today, 102 prominent individuals from Texas and throughout the country released a statement urging Texas officials to provide a new, fair sentencing hearing for Duane Buck. Mr. Buck is an African-American man who was condemned to death after his sentencing jury was told that he posed a future danger because of his race. The signatories write: “The State of Texas cannot condone any form of racial discrimination in the courtroom. The use of race in sentencing poisons the legal process and breeds cynicism in the judiciary. No execution should be carried out until the courts have a meaningful opportunity to address the evidence of fundamental injustice in Mr. Buck’s case. A new, fair sentencing hearing for Mr. Buck is absolutely necessary to restore public confidence in the criminal justice system.”....READ MORE
New Research: Harris County District Attorney’s Office Was Three Times More Likely to Seek Death for African Americans Like Duane BuckMr. Buck, Called a Future Danger Because He is Black, Files Petition Seeking New, Fair Sentencing Hearing
March 13, 2013
(Houston, Texas; March 13,2013) A significant new study finding racial bias in Harris County’s death penalty system was released today in an appeal filed by condemned prisoner, Duane Buck, in Harris County’s 208th Criminal District Court. Mr. Buck challenges his death sentence as an unconstitutional product of racial discrimination and presents research showing that at the time of his 1997 capital trial, the Harris County District Attorney’s Office was over three times more likely to seek the death penalty against African American defendants like himself, than against similarly-situated white defendants. The research also shows that Harris County juries were more than twice as likely to impose death sentences on African American defendants in cases like Mr. Buck’s, than on similarly situated white defendants....READ MORE
Texas Defender Service, Texas Appleseed Release Criminal Discovery Report Growing Call to Prevent Wrongful Convictions by Improving Texas’ Discovery Laws
February 27, 2013
(Austin, Texas; February 27,2013) As state lawmakers move to improve Texas’ criminal discovery statute to reduce the risk of wrongful convictions, Texas Defender Service and Texas Appleseed today released a timely report with new findings on Texas’ discovery practices and recommendations for reform.
“Texas’ discovery statute falls short of the best practices in criminal discovery adopted by the American Bar Association (ABA) and implemented in a majority of states,” said Kathryn Kase, Executive Director, Texas Defender Service.
“While some district attorney’s offices already recognize the shortcomings in Texas’ criminal discovery statute and have moved towards open file discovery, others provide little pre-trial discovery and some even require defendants to waive important statutory rights in exchange for open file discovery,” Kase said. “This lack of uniformity impacts access to justice.” ...READ MORE
Executions and New Death Sentences Continue to Decline in Texas
December 15, 2011
(Houston, Texas; December 15, 2011) Executions in Texas fell to their lowest level in 15 years in 2011, and new death sentences remained at the all-time low level established last year, according to Texas Defender Service (TDS), a non-profit law firm that represents death row prisoners.
This year, Texas executed 13 prisoners, down from 17 executions in 2010 and a reduction from the all-time high of 40 executions in 2000. Texas gained only 8 new death sentences in 2011, the same number as in 2010, and down from the all-time high of 48 new death sentences in 1999.
“These numbers show that Texans have a growing discomfort with the chronic problems that infect the death penalty system, including the risk of convicting an innocent person, the costs, and its disproportionate use against people of color,” said Kathryn Kase, interim executive director of TDS. “Texas is part of a nationwide trend away from the death penalty.”...READ MORE
More than 60 Civil Rights and Faith Leaders, Elected Officials, Former Prosecutors, and Past ABA Presidents Call On Harris County D.A. To Provide Remedy in Case of Duane Buck
November 7, 2011
(Harris County, Texas; November 7, 2011) Prominent individuals from Texas and across the country are calling on Harris County District Attorney Patricia Lykos to remedy the sentence in a death penalty case involving the government’s reliance on the defendant’s race at sentencing. Duane Buck was scheduled to be executed on September 15, 2011, when the U.S. Supreme Court intervened. Today, the Court denied Mr. Buck’s petition for writ of certiorari.
At Mr. Buck’s capital murder trial in 1997, the State relied upon evidence that African-Americans are more likely to be dangerous as a basis for asking his jury to sentence him to death. District Attorney Lykos now has the discretion to remedy this error...READ MORE
Prosecutor In Case Where Government Relied On Race Testimony At Trial Urges Texas Officials To Stop Duane Buck’s Execution
September 6, 2011
Today, a former Harris County Assistant District Attorney who prosecuted Duane Buck
is urging state officials to halt Mr. Buck's execution next week because "[n]o individual
should be executed without being afforded a fair trial, untainted by considerations of
race." Linda Geffin, who served as second-chair prosecutor in the State of Texas vs.
Duane Buck in 1997, sent a letter this morning to Governor Rick Perry, the Texas Board
of Pardons and Paroles, Attorney General Greg Abbott, and Harris County District
Attorney Patricia Lykos, urging them to intervene and stop Mr. Buck's September 15
Forensic Psychologist Banned from Making Mental Retardation Evaluations in TX Death Penalty Cases
April 15, 2011
(Austin, Texas, April 15, 2011) George C. Denkowski, a psychologist who used his own criteria
to find many men eligible for the death penalty, was banned today from practicing forensic
psychology in Texas. Denkowski’s methodology, which often used unaccepted diagnostic
techniques of inflating IQ and adaptive behavior scores for reasons of lifestyle and culture during
the evaluations of death row prisoners, had come under scrutiny by his peers. The Texas State
Board of Examiners of Psychologists began investigating Denkowski’s methods after a
complaint was filed by at least one of his colleagues alleging he misused psychological testing
and inflated IQ scores...Read More
Victims, Jurors Urge Clemency for Tim Adams
February 7, 2011
(Austin, Texas) Attorneys for Tim Adams filed a clemency petition today urging the Texas Board
of Pardons and Paroles to vote to spare Mr. Adams’ life and to ask Governor Rick Perry to
commute his death sentence to life in prison without parole. Mr. Adams is an army veteran with
no criminal history, not even an arrest, until he snapped and killed his son while planning his
suicide in 2002. His execution is scheduled for February 22....Read More