Without an (unlikely) intervention from the Texas governor or the Supreme Court, Duane Edward Buck will die this evening
Texas death-row inmate Duane Edward Buck is scheduled to be executed within hours -- anytime after 6 p.m. Thursday local time -- for a double murder he committed in 1995. In 2000, then-Texas Attorney General John Cornyn announced that Buck's case -- among others -- had been unconstitutionally tainted by improper racial testimony. Texas quickly gave the other men who had been tried unfairly new sentencing trials. But the current political and legal hierarchy of the Lone Star State has refused to treat Buck similarly. I wrote about all of this in more detail earlier this week.
I write briefly today to offer three quick new points.
1. Jordan Smith, of the Austin Chronicle, has just written a powerful, detailed piece about the death penalty in Texas under Gov. Rick Perry's reign. Smith writes:
Like Bush and those before him, Perry has said that deciding who dies at the hand of the state is a grave and most serious matter: "The power to make life-and-death decisions is the most sobering responsibility imaginable," he told the Texas Association of Broadcasters in 2001. "I have always exercised this power with the gravity due such a life and death decision. And I will continue to review each capital punishment case brought before me to ensure that due process has been served." It was an echo of his predecessor: Deciding capital cases is "by far the most profound" decision a governor has to make, Bush wrote in his autobiography. "I get the facts, weigh them thoughtfully and carefully, and decide."
On Wednesday, Buck's attorneys formally requested of Gov. Perry a 30-day stay of execution so that they could continue to work on getting their client a new sentencing trial. The governor so far as not yet responded. But his spokesperson told the Los Angeles Times Wednesday that Gov. Perry will not be in Texas tonight to "preside" over Buck's scheduled execution. He has instead turned the matter over to his Lieutenant Governor, a man named David Dewhurst. Evidently it will be Dewhurst, and not Perry, who will formally decide whether to give Buck the 30-day stay of execution he has requested.