Buck v. Davis

Posted: February 3, 2017 by beguide in Criminal Procedure, Death Penalty, Fantasy Supreme Court League, Lawyers, Uncategorized, White Skull


WHAT HAPPENED:  Defendant (Buck) was in the sentencing phase of his trial and his attorney presented an expert told the jury that Defendant was more prone to violence because of his race.  Defendant argues that this mistake prejudiced his death penalty sentencing and he should receive a new sentencing based on an Ineffective Assistance of Counsel claim.  The State’s objections to Defendant’s claim are somewhat strange, since this expert had been used by the State in the past, and the State voluntarily commuted the death penalty sentences for those defendants.  The State did not commute this death penalty sentence because Defendant put on the expert and not the State.

WHY IS THIS BEFORE THE SUPREME COURT:  Ineffective Assistance of Counsel is a claim rooted in the 5th and 6th Amendments which grants a Defendant a new trial when it is proven that the attorney who represented the defendant did an objectively bad job, and that the attorney’s job affected the outcome.  In this case, I think we can all agree presenting an expert who has a history of making racist claims, and then having that expert shares those claims with the jury  is not something you learn in law school.  The issue here is whether or not this expert sufficiently affected the sentencing phase, or if the evidence presented by the State satisfied the burden of proving the death penalty regardless of that witness’ testimony.

WHAT ARE THE RAMIFICATIONS –  Every year there are cases before the Supreme Court that can have long-lasting effects on future cases, but more often than not the Court is faced with weird fact patterns that exist only within themselves.  It is hard to see how this case will have any long lasting effect on IAC claims, since it is unlikely that this kind of expert is still being used, or if there is anything comparable to this kind of conduct.  At oral argument, the Court used some fairly strong language condemning the expert and the attorney, so on those grounds alone, it looks like the implications of upholding the sentence are weighing heavier than the implications of removing the death penalty.

ROOT FOR BUCK IF:  even the hint of racism is repugnant to your sense of justice.

ROOT FOR DAVIS IF:  an efficient system takes precedence over a corrupt one.

PREDICTION:  Buck 8-0.

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