FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 17, 2018
Attorneys for Chris Young make final plea to Governor Abbott
Today, attorneys for Christopher Anthony Young, who faces execution by the State of Texas around 6:00 PM this evening, appealed to Texas Governor Greg Abbott to use his authority to grant Mr. Young a 30-day reprieve.
Last Friday, July 13, 2018, the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles rejected Mr. Young’s application for clemency by a vote of 6 to 0. While Governor Abbott can only commute a sentence based on a favorable recommendation from the Board, he does have the power to issue a 30-day reprieve for whatever reason he deems necessary.
In response to the Board’s vote to deny clemency, Mr. Young’s attorneys filed a complaint in federal court arguing that race appears to have played a decisive role in the Board’s decision.
Chris Young is African-American. The complaint argues that while the clemency board has broad discretion in exercising its duties, it is not permissible to take race into account in either granting or denying clemency. It draws parallels to the case of Thomas Whitaker, a white man who received a unanimous recommendation for clemency from this same Board on February 20, 2018.
U.S. District Judge Keith Ellison held a hearing on the complaint in Houston on Monday, July 16, 2018. This morning, July 17, Judge Ellison denied the request for a stay of execution because he found Young did not demonstrate a substantial likelihood of success on the merits of the claim raised in his Complaint. This is a showing Young was only required to make because he had to ask the district court to stay his execution. This request would not have been necessary had the Board not waited until July 13 to announce its decision on his clemency petition. If the Board had announced its decision sooner, Young’s attorneys would have been able to conduct discovery in support of his claim.
The complaint is available here: http://bit.ly/2ukIzjB
The U.S. District Court ruling is available here: http://bit.ly/2NjKBaT
The basis of the attorney’s appeal to Governor Abbott is that they need more time to discover whether racial animus played any role in the Board’s decision to reject Mr. Young’s request for clemency, despite its having met with Mitesh Patel, the son of the man Mr. Young killed, and learning of his fervent opposition to Mr. Young’s execution.
… we believe it is quite likely you do not believe the members of the Board allow racial bias to affect the decisions they make regarding requests for clemency. It is entirely possible that the result of the suit we have filed, should it be allowed to reach its conclusion, would be a finding supporting such a belief. However, you should not allow Mr. Young’s execution to proceed unless and until it is determined race was not a factor the Board considered in determining Young is not deserving of clemency. You have a duty to ensure the law applies equally to all of Texas’ citizens regardless of their race. In Mr. Young’s case, fulfilling that duty requires that you now grant him a thirty-day reprieve.
Young’s attorneys also plans to appeal Judge Ellison’s denial for a stay of execution to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.