Today, Christina Swarns, Director of Litigation for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF), appeared before the Supreme Court, giving a powerful argument in Buck v. Davis, a case involving the racially-charged death sentence of Duane Buck.
In order to impose a death sentence in Texas, a jury must be convinced that the defendant is likely to commit violent acts in the future. During the sentencing phase of his trial, Mr. Buck’s own attorney introduced so-called expert testimony that Mr. Buck was more likely to be dangerous in the future because he is Black, a conclusion rooted in nothing more than a pernicious, antiquated stereotype.
In today’s argument, Ms. Swarns laid out a powerful case for why the rule of law demands a new sentencing hearing for Mr. Buck free from racial bias. Ms. Swarns deftly fielded detailed questions from the Justices about the record, and tackled key issues with clarity, force, and full command. She powerfully framed the case within historical context and within the context of the contemporary moment in which we as a nation find ourselves.
“Christina Swarns’ argument before the Supreme Court was powerful, persuasive, and in the proudest tradition of LDF’s courtroom advocacy,” said Sherrilyn Ifill, President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.
“We are at a profound national moment of reckoning with the role that racism continues to play in our criminal justice system. In Buck, the Supreme Court will have to decide whether it will allow Texas to depart from the Court’s consistent admonition that race may play no role in how justice is meted out by our criminal justice system,” Ifill added.
Listen to Christina Swarns’ argument here.
- New York Times: Adam Liptak, Justices Seem Ready to Find Bias in Trial of Black Man on Texas Death Row (Oct.5, 2016)
- Washington Post: Robert Barnes, Supreme Court hears arguments in two cases raising issues of discrimination, unfair treatment (Oct 5, 2016)
- Washington Post: Robert Barnes, For A Rare Moment at the Supreme Court, the Genders Were on Equal Footing (Oct. 17, 2016)
- ABC News: Audrey Taylor, SCOTUS Hears Arguments in Death Penalty Case (Oct. 5, 2016)
- CBS News: Texas inmate Duane Buck argues he received death sentence due to his race (Oct 5, 2016)
- Los Angeles Times: David G. Savage, Supreme Court seems ready to reopen racial bias claims in Texas and Illinois (Oct. 5, 2016)
- Huffington Post: Cristian Farias, Supreme Court May Side With Inmate Who Was Sentenced To Death Because He Is Black (Oct. 5, 2016)
- Christian Science Monitor: Henry Gass, Supreme Court hears ‘indefensible’ death penalty case (Oct. 5, 2016)
- NBC News: Pete Williams, Duane Buck Case: Supreme Court Considers Role of Race in Sentencing (Oct 5, 2016)
- USA Today: Richard Wolf, Justices see racism in inmate’s death sentence (Oct. 5, 2016)
- Wall Street Journal: Jess Bravin, Supreme Court Weighs Bias Claims in Murder Trial (Oct. 5, 2016)
- Houston Chronicle: Kevin Diaz, Supreme Court looks at race in Houston death penalty case (Oct. 5, 2016)
- SCOTUSblog: Amy Howe, Argument analysis: Justices appear inclined to rule in favor of Texas death row inmate in racial bias case (Oct. 5, 2016)
- San Antonio Current: Alex Zielinski, Supreme Court May Finally Fix Texas Death Row Case Tainted By Racist Testimony (Oct. 5, 2016)
- Courthouse News Service: Tim Ryan, Supremes Study Racism in Texas Death-Row Case (Oct. 5, 2016)
- TMN: Gary Gately, Supreme Court weighs racial bias in black inmate’s death sentence (Oct. 5, 2016)
- BuzzFeed: Chris McDaniel and Chris Geidner, Supreme Court Poised To Side With Death Row Inmate In Case With Racist Testimony (Oct. 5, 2016)
- The Guardian: Duane Buck: supreme court poised to side with inmate in ‘racially tainted’ case (Oct. 5, 2016)
- Reuters: Lawrence Hurley, U.S. Supreme Court poised to back Texas death row inmate (oct. 5, 2016)
- AP: Mark Sherman, Black Texas inmate seems likely to win at Supreme Court (Oct. 5, 2016)
- The Root: Breanna Edwards, Racial Bias Got Duane Buck the Death Sentence; the Supreme Court Can Fix It (Oct. 5, 2016)
- The Guardian: Ed Pilkington, Supreme court to address Duane Buck’s ‘racially tainted’ death sentence (Oct. 4, 2016)
- ThinkProgress: Ian Millhiser, SCOTUS considers if man may be executed after ‘expert’ testified that black people are dangerous, (Oct. 3, 2016)
- ABA Journal: Mark Walsh, SCOTUS considers death penalty case in which expert testified race could predict future violence, (Oct. 1, 2016)
- The National Law Journal: Jordan Steiker, Extraordinary Injustice in Texas Death Penalty Case Needs SCOTUS Fix(Sep. 20, 2016)
Founded in 1940, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is the nation’s first civil and human rights law organization and has been completely separate from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1957—although LDF was originally founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights. LDF’s Thurgood Marshall Institute is a multi-disciplinary and collaborative hub within LDF that launches targeted campaigns and undertakes innovative research to shape the civil rights narrative. In media attributions, please refer to us as the NAACP Legal Defense Fund or LDF.