2017-06-07 15:52:45 UTC
TEXAS----new execution date
Judge signs execution warrant for Clinton Young----Clinton Young was sentenced
to death in 2003 for 2 murders committed in 2001.
The 33-year-old has an execution date of Oct. 26 at the Texas Department of
Criminal Justice Huntsville Unit.
Judge Robert Moore, visiting judge for the 238th District Court, issued a
warrant of execution on Monday for Clinton Lee Young, according to the Midland
County District Attorney's Office. The 33-year-old has an execution date of
Oct. 26 at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Huntsville Unit.
Young was sentenced to death in 2003 after he was convicted of the 2001 murders
of Doyle Douglas and Samuel Petrey for the use of their vehicles.
The men were fatally shot during a crime spree that ended when Midland
authorities apprehended Young, according to previous Reporter-Telegram reports.
Douglas, 41, of Ore City was killed near Longview. Petrey, 52, of Eastland was
kidnapped in his hometown and killed in an oilfield near Midland, according to
the reports. The incidents occurred within a 48-hour period, according to TDCJ
Young exhausted his state appeals, according to a Reporter-Telegram report from
Young, a Titus County native, was being held Tuesday at the Polunsky Unit in
Livingston, according to TDCJ records. He is the only Midland County offender
on death row, according to the records.
David Lee Page, a co-defendant in the case, is serving a 30-year sentence for
aggravated kidnapping. His parole was denied in November, according to TDCJ
Executions under Greg Abbott, Jan. 21, 2015-present----24
Executions in Texas: Dec. 7, 1982----present-----543
Abbott#--------scheduled execution date-----name------------Tx. #
25---------July 19-----------------Kosoul Chanthakoummane---544
26---------July 27-----------------Taichin Preyor---------545
27---------Aug. 30-----------------Steven Long------------546
29---------Oct. 26-----------------Clinton Young----------548
(sources: TDCJ & Rick Halperin)
County pays for capital cases
he Henderson County Commissioners Court approved payment of expenses from
capital murder cases on Tuesday, by a 4-1 vote, which Precinct 4 Commissioner
Ken Geeslin opposed.
The bills amounted to $21,514.47. Geeslin objected to more money being spent
for a mental evaluation of Randall Mays, who was convicted in May of 2008 for
killing Henderson County Sheriff's Office Deputies Paul Habelt and Tony Ogburn.
"It makes one wonder why we ever tried to convict somebody of a capital offense
after shooting 2 deputies," Geeslin said. "The taxpayers are still paying
today, another $21,514.47. If anyone in the audience thinks that doesn't upset
me, well, think again."
Mays was scheduled to be executed in March, 2015, before an appeals court
stopped the proceedings on the grounds he might not be competent to receive the
death penalty. The county is required to pay bills for defense in capital cases
when presented by the district court judge.
(source: Athens Daily Review)
America has become a land of cowards.
Even when a killer is found guilty of murder, rarely do they receive their
death punishment. The death penalty should be the only option available when a
person commits murder and is 16 and up. One who commits murder should die.
Folks stay on death row 30 years or more and it cost millions of dollars of
taxpayer money to keep them alive and in most cases a slick lawyer will figure
out a way for his guilty client to never face the death march. There should be
no insanity pleas.
The death sentence should be federal mandated in all 50 states. I am proud of
Arkansas. Several well deserved murderers got fried recently. Speaking of the
drugs that are used to kill the killers, some say that they are "cruel and
unusual punishment." No, cruel and unusual punishment is what these murderers
did to their victims. The answer to all the flak over these drugs used for
executions? Eliminate all of them. Bring back hanging. It's cheap and works.
Bring back Judge Parker's court! I would love the job of pulling the lever to
hang them! All citizens should be required to watch on TV. Ask a woman or man
who has been raped, if they don't relive it every day. Rapists of all children
should be put to death. In a lot of ways, rape is worse than murder.
American's entire judicial and punishment approach is all messed up. Third
world counties have better. Punishment for murderers and rapists than the USA
does. No, America is not the greatest country on the planet. At one time it was
- not anymore. My vote for the greatest country on the planet? It is Israel. If
one kills an Israeli, see what happens to them? Don't mess with God's chosen
people. I am sure God cries a lot of tears, as he looks down on what America
has become. I cry too!
(source: Letter to the Editor, Texarkana Gazette)
Who Is Dangerous, and Who Dies?----An appalling and racialized standard of
'future dangerousness' has been used to condemn defendants. This lawyer fought
The death penalty, like abortion, is one of those hot-button topics that keeps
popping up into the public consciousness, a roach motel for meretricious ideas
and bad public policy - including racism. I would bet that if it involved
putting white people to death for killing black people, it would have been
abolished years ago. Still, it persists. Except our society - until recently -
has come to believe that overt expressions of racism might not be a good thing.
Better to keep a fig leaf over it than to explore its underbelly.
In 1972, the Supreme Court found in the 5-4 decision of Furman v. Georgia that
the death penalty as practiced in this country was unconstitutional under the
Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments. But the majority couldn't agree on a
rationale for its decision, so instead of 1 majority opinion, 5 separate
concurrences were produced. While Justices Brennan and Marshall found the death
penalty itself to be cruel and usual punishment, Justices Stewart, White and
Douglas focused on its arbitrariness, leaving the door wide open for states to
rejigger their statutes and return to executions.
In 1973, Texas did just that - the sentencing phase of a capital trial was
separated from the guilt phase, and the jury was asked to consider "whether
there is a probability that the defendant would commit criminal acts of
violence that would constitute a continuing threat to society [future
dangerousness]." In response to the Furman decision, Governor Preston Smith
commuted the death sentences of 52 inmates in Texas, clearing out death row
entirely. In 1976, consolidating cases from 5 different states (Georgia,
Florida, Texas, North Carolina and Louisiana), the court in Gregg v. Georgia
found that the death penalty was not unconstitutional in every case. Executions
in Texas, now by lethal injection - Old Sparky, the Texas electric chair, had
been retired - started back up in 1982.
I first became involved with all this while making my film "The Thin Blue
Line." I had read about Dr. James Grigson, an expert witness regularly called
by the state of Texas. Some referred to him as "Dr. Death" because he would
routinely find that the defendant posed a risk of future dangerousness , and
thus should be executed. I met with Dr. Grigson in 1985, and on his
recommendation I started interviewing Texas death row inmates. Among those Dr.
Grigson had testified posed a risk of future dangerousness was Randall Dale
Adams, a convicted cop killer - or at least, so it seemed.
My film was finished, and Mr. Adams was exonerated. I had thought - stupidly,
it turned out - that Dr. Grigson had been put out of business. Not so. The
"dangerousness" provision of the Texas law remained very much in place. But I
forgot about it. I had done my fair share of good - got an innocent man out of
Then, not long ago, I read about the case of Buck v. Davis, decided by the
Supreme Court on Feb. 22. Duane Buck had been convicted of capital murder in
1997. He killed his ex-girlfriend and one of her friends. The details of the
crime are appalling, but no less appalling is that Dr. Walter Quijano discussed
Mr. Buck's race as a factor in determining his future dangerousness.
African-Americans, Dr. Quijano argued, are more likely to commit acts of
violence. Though Dr. Quijano opined that Mr. Buck was not a risk of future
dangerousness, his testimony about race remained an element for the jury to
Dr. Quijano has given similar testimony in other death penalty cases since
1991. Prompted by the Supreme Court's decision in Saldano v. Texas (2000),
which vacated the sentence of Victor Hugo Saldano because Dr. Quijano had
testified that Mr. Saldano's Hispanic ethnicity made him a greater risk of
future dangerousness, State Attorney General John Cornyn promised that his
office would not object if the other defendants (Mr. Buck among them) sought to
overturn their death sentences based on Dr. Quijano's testimony. In Mr. Buck's
case, though, they did object, claiming that since it was the defense attorney
who put Dr. Quijano on the stand and allowed his testimony into the record
without objection, the State of Texas owed the defendant nothing.
I called Mr. Buck's attorney Christina Swarns, litigation director of the NAACP
Legal Defense & Educational Fund Inc., to discuss the case.
CHRISTINA SWARNS: Thank you so much for reaching out about the Duane Buck case.
ERROL MORRIS: It brought alive a lot of feelings that go back so many years.
One of the horrors of the "Thin Blue Line" case involved the prediction of
future violence. You had a psychiatrist, "the hanging psychiatrist," Dr. James
Grigson, who would make predictions of future violence based on a diagnosis of
sociopathy. He would testify the defendant is a sociopath and will kill and
kill again. I am offended that this law still exists. I believe it came out of
the Dallas district attorney's office and was written with Dr. Grigson in mind.
Various prosecutors thought: "We have these psychiatrists in our hip pocket.
Why not fashion a law which will allow us to make use of this in the
courtroom?" And that is exactly what they did, except they overplayed their
hand. As a result many of these cases were retried on grounds of improper jury
selection and Fifth Amendment violations. And then 25 years later, along comes
CHRISTINA SWARNS: Everyone was horrified by the fact that the damaging
testimony was introduced by the defense counsel. It explicitly, out loud, links
race to dangerousness. This is not implicit bias; this is explicit,
1st-generation racism. This is the good old stuff. And that's bad, but it's
even worse that his own lawyer brings it in.
ERROL MORRIS: Not ineffective counsel, but counsel actively undermining the
CHRISTINA SWARNS: Predictions of future dangerousness are absurd, and then to
be put in a capital punishment box which is already so contaminated by racial
bias. The introduction of evidence linking race to dangerousness - like that
which was presented in the Duane Buck case - was an inevitable product of
future dangerousness in the capital punishment system in Texas. Because the
Texas death penalty system was already so contaminated and corrupted by racial
bias, the Duane Buck death sentence was a predictable outcome of that mess.
ERROL MORRIS: And yet you kept losing in the courts.
CHRISTINA SWARNS: Yes. For me, having litigated it for the last 6 years, I was
astonished every time we lost. Clearly someone is going to correct this thing.
It plays on so many of the obvious flaws in the system.
ERROL MORRIS: Can you tell me about the attempts made "to correct this thing"?
CHRISTINA SWARNS: When L.D.F. [the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund]
first joined the case in 2011, it was in the Supreme Court and it was being
conferenced. Buck got an execution date, and Texas Defender Services filed a
flurry of litigation bringing the race issue to the attention of the court. The
Supreme Court stayed the execution, and we were excited, thinking, "O.K.,
they're going to take this case." And so we waited, and then the Supreme Court
denies it in 2 decisions, which is unusual. They usually don't explain their
decisions, but here we had 2 decisions, one authored by Justice Alito and
joined by - here is the interesting part - Justice Scalia and Justice Breyer.
ERROL MORRIS: Breyer joined? [Stephen Breyer was part of the liberal minority
on the Supreme Court, along with Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader
Ginsburg. He was an unusual partner to Antonin Scalia and Samuel A. Alito Jr.]
CHRISTINA SWARNS: Yes, it was just completely fascinating. Breyer joins Alito
and Scalia and they say: The testimony is what they called "bizarre and
objectionable," but this is defense counsel's fault. They say: The prosecutor
just exploited an error made by defense counsel, so you've brought the wrong
claim. Sotomayor, joined by Kagan, dissents, essentially saying: Are you
kidding me? This is terrible. This is racism. It's all over this case.
ERROL MORRIS: And [Justice Clarence] Thomas, in this instance?
CHRISTINA SWARNS: He doesn't speak. He says nothing. But obviously, for us,
Breyer joining Alito and Scalia was troubling, to be charitable. So we regroup,
and we say, "O.K., oh good Lord, what are we going to do now?"
Dr. Quijano's testimony had been questioned in Buck and other death penalty
Q. [The prosecutor] asked you about statistical factors in predicting future
dangerousness. When we're talking about statistics, are we talking about
correlation or causation?
A. Oh. These statistics are strictly correlation. There's a big distinction,
and we must keep that in mind. Correlation simply says that 2 events happened -
coincidentally happened at the same time. It does not mean that 1 causes the
Q. So when we're talking about these statistical factors - that more men
re-offend than women, Hispanics offend more than blacks or whites, people from
the low socioeconomic groups offend more than people from the higher
socioeconomic groups, people who have opiate addiction or alcohol abuse offend
more often than those who don't, people who have less education offend more
often than those who have - do all those things cause people to offend? A. No.
They are simply contributing factors. They are not causal factors. One cannot
control one's gender or one's color. And obviously there are many, many
Hispanics, many whites, many Orientals who don't commit crimes. But the
frequence [sic] among those who commit crimes, these are the characteristics.
They don't cause each other; they just happen to be coincidental to each
I find Dr. Quijano's attempts to explain his methodology ludicrous. If race is
a contributing factor but not a causal factor, is the issue whether race is a
causal factor among many, or whether it is a causal factor at all? Or is Dr.
Quijano having trouble admitting that he does see race as a contributing causal
In McCleskey v. Kemp the Supreme Court was asked to consider the statistical
evidence of racial discrimination in death sentences reached by one study. The
analysis found that defendants accused of killing white victims were 4.3 times
more likely to receive the death penalty than defendants accused of killing
black victims. The Supreme Court argued that racial discrimination has to be
established in individual cases, not in the aggregate. Ironically, the court
was perfectly willing to accept weak statistical arguments involving future
dangerousness but to reject strong statistical arguments involving race and
Back to Ms. Swarns.
CHRISTINA SWARNS: We regroup and decide to bring a state postconviction
challenge back in Texas. Now it's 2013.
We lose. We come back into federal court in 2013 and say: The rules have
changed. The Supreme Court said we brought the wrong claim in 2011, but now
we're bringing the right claim; we're now bringing the
ineffective-assistance-of-counsel claim that you basically asked for. This
claim was brought to a federal district court judge who we thought would be
receptive, based on the nature of the claim and the change in the law.
Surprise. She denied it outright, without any apparent sympathy to the claim.
She called it de minimis.
ERROL MORRIS: De minimis?
CHRISTINA SWARNS: Inconsequential. I had personally litigated another case
before her, and that was a jury discrimination case on behalf of a Latino, a
Mexican-American gentleman on death row in Texas, and she granted relief. I
thought from my personal experience that she would be receptive to it, but she
was absolutely not. And so we go up to the Fifth Circuit, and the Fifth is
equally unreceptive. The panel just completely affirms her decision. We sought
rehearing en banc; we asked the full court to review the panel's decision. And
of course we were denied again, with a dissent from a couple of justices on the
ERROL MORRIS: Things are not going well.
CHRISTINA SWARNS: No. But we sent it up to the Supreme Court. Our request for
Supreme Court review was filed in the spring of last year, and it was
To have this delay and delay and delay and delay, it seemed to me that there
might be some disagreement between the justices about whether to take the case.
But they did. And it was argued in October, and then, of course, in February,
we got a favorable decision from the court. It was 6 to 2 in our favor, but the
language of the majority is very strong and unequivocal, and we had worried
that it might be less clear, but the majority spoke really clearly, in this
case about the inappropriateness of this evidence.
ERROL MORRIS: You were repeatedly questioned by Roberts [Chief Justice John G.
CHRISTINA SWARNS: He kept asking me, But aren't you really just saying, isn't
this case such an extreme outlier that it's hard to use it as a basis upon
which to make a rule? This is so far outside the mainstream that it doesn't
offer much guidance with respect to rules in the average case? And so that
could have cut both ways. But obviously it ultimately cut not only in favor of
granting full relief for Mr. Buck, but also for reaffirming the principle that
"we sentence people for what they do, not for who they are."
ERROL MORRIS: Full relief --? They overturned the death sentence?
CHRISTINA SWARNS: Yes, they did essentially. They said there is a Sixth
Amendment violation - ineffective assistance of counsel - and we had crossed
the procedural hurdles that we needed to get through. And so now it has to be
remanded to the federal courts to, with those rulings, grant the writ and send
him back to the state to decide whether they're going to seek another death
sentence or resentence him otherwise.
ERROL MORRIS: And what do you think will happen?
CHRISTINA SWARNS: We don't know, but I can say that a death sentence is
inappropriate here. Mr. Buck has been on death row since 1997, 1998, and he has
had no disciplinary infractions in that time. So to your point about future
dangerousness, the prediction could not have been more wrong. We now know
without question that Mr. Buck is not likely to be a danger if he is sentenced
to life, because he has been in jail for 20-some-odd years, and has had no
disciplinary infractions, which is really unusual for anybody to come up with
so few disciplinary infractions under any circumstance. It will be a very hard
case for the state to prove future dangerousness if it tried to on a
resentencing hearing. He has a perfect record.
ERROL MORRIS: Would it be a commutation to life if they decided not to retry
CHRISTINA SWARNS: We're just not sure.
ERROL MORRIS: But the real problem is the Texas statute [coming after Furman v.
Georgia] to reinstate the death penalty in Texas. To me the law in itself is an
CHRISTINA SWARNS: I cannot disagree. The business of predicting future
dangerousness without becoming corrupted by the various factors that are so
tied to human functioning is impossible. It's an absurd requirement. As a
prerequisite for a death sentence, it's insane.
ERROL MORRIS: People are celebrating, which they should, your victory in this
case, but the underlying problem remains.
CHRISTINA SWARNS: That's right. I will say that along the way people asked me,
were we challenging future dangerousness? And we just didn't. It wasn't raised.
We just didn't have the opportunity to do that.
ERROL MORRIS: Dr. Walter Quijano, the psychologist, has testified in many, many
CHRISTINA SWARNS: He has. He has been interviewed and holds to the position
that there is a correlation between race and violence. He cites John Monahan, a
researcher, for this view. But Monahan himself said it was inappropriate for
Quijano to have used his research in this way.
ERROL MORRIS: Well, Dr. Grigson was until the end a very firm believer in his
predictions of dangerousness based on sociopathy. I knew him well.
CHRISTINA SWARNS: I can't imagine what he was like.
ERROL MORRIS: He was avuncular, charming in his own insidious way. I rather
liked him. I found his social views deeply pernicious, but he is the one who
introduced me to the death penalty in Texas. I went down to interview him in
Dallas, and he insisted that I interview people he had put on death row. That's
how I began "The Thin Blue Line."
CHRISTINA SWARNS: That's amazing.
ERROL MORRIS: I found an innocent man who came very close to being executed.
[Adams's execution was scheduled for May 8, 1979, but Supreme Court Justice
Lewis F. Powell Jr. ordered a stay only 3 days before he was to be strapped
into the lethal-injection gurney. Ultimately, the court overturned his death
sentence, but not his conviction.] I uncovered all of these appalling details
30 years ago and then opened up a newspaper recently and read about Buck. It's
as if nothing ever happened. That's both depressing and infuriating. Mitt
Romney, when he was governor of Massachusetts, was told that the death penalty
is problematic because it's fallible. You could execute an innocent person, and
given our current state of knowledge, there is really no way to bring them
back. Once executed, they stay executed.
CHRISTINA SWARNS: And so what was Romney's reply?
ERROL MORRIS: He said: Oh, that's simple. We'll just make it infallible. We'll
make it foolproof. You said it's fallible. We'll just fix that.
CHRISTINA SWARNS: If only.
ERROL MORRIS: If only. But this is an example of how it has never been fixed.
And here is the $64,000 question. What are your feelings about Clarence
Thomas's decision in this case? Why did he decide as he did?
CHRISTINA SWARNS: I have no idea. He is inexplicable. I don't really understand
him. Putting aside the race politics here - and this is a big aside - we were
right on the law. We were just 4 corners right on here. Put aside race,
consider just the case. We met the law. I just don't understand him. He is
really offended by the facts of the crime, which is fair, and I get that,
because the facts are terrible, but the law is the law - ERROL MORRIS: I am
interested in the kinds of casuistry that are involved in legal decisions in
general, Supreme Court decisions specifically. I do believe the ends are always
justifying the means. If you believe that somehow people should be executed,
then you do whatever you need to do in order to make that happen. You think
like Romney - we'll just make it infallible - but that argument clearly misses
CHRISTINA SWARNS: Right. It's absurd. Just think about. I can't predict what my
kid is going to do tomorrow. It's an insane ask, based on no credible science.
And so we're back where we started, except things have gotten worse. We have
elected a president who invokes future dangerousness with respect to country of
national origin (and also religion). In 1977 it was Dr. Grigson and sociopathy;
in 1997, Dr. Quijano and race; and now it is Donald Trump and a list of s6
countries. Think of it as a very thinly disguised form of racism against
Christina Swarns sent me several legal briefs submitted to the Supreme Court in
support of Buck, among them, a brief from the National Black Law Students
Association. "Whether by a judge, a prosecutor or defense counsel, an appeal to
a jury based on racial prejudice poisons our system of justice." And from the
Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law: "Mr. Buck was entitled to have
his dangerousness assessed on an individualized basis based on his personal
attributes. Instead he received a death sentence tainted by 400 years of racial
Notwithstanding, the concept of dangerousness is alive and well. It took an
egregious error to call it into question in Duane Buck's case. But it should
have been ruled as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 1976 (under the
Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments) and should be seen as unconstitutional today.
Admittedly, there is a difference between a court of law and a presidential
order involving immigration. But under any circumstance, should public policy
be held hostage to racial and religious discrimination?
(source: Errol Morris is a writer and filmmaker; Op-Ed, New York Times)
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