Today’s Austin American Statesman features an editorial in support of last week’s last-minute decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to grant a stay of execution to Duane Buck (“Fairness In The Justice System,” September 20, 2011). The editors observe that “… all Texans — perhaps especially those who support capital punishment — should feel good about this [Supreme Court] decision. Those who favor the death penalty — a penalty we oppose because of the fallibility of our justice system and the humans who act within it — should live in fear of the execution of an innocent person or anything that inflicts noxious racial overtones.”
Over the weekend, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram also editorialized about the case (“Texas death penalty case shows that details of fairness are crucial,” September 18, 2011). Here’s an excerpt:
The Star- Telegram Editorial Board has repeatedly said that, because capital punishment is irreversible, the process that leads to it must always be as fair, thorough and constitutionally errorless as possible.
No system is perfect, and it would be unrealistic to assume that it would be, even in cases calling for the death penalty. That makes it all the more important that when it is obvious a mistake has been made that could determine life or death, we do all in our power to correct it.
A clear error occurred in Buck’s case when improper testimony was included. A new sentencing hearing could correct it. And Texas and other states that continue to use the death penalty should continue working to make the process fair and error-free.