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Verbatim

Judges in their own words

March 6, 2017

“Our law punishes people for what they do, not who they are.”

—Chief Justice John R. Roberts, Jr., writing for the majority in Buck v. Davis, 2017 WL 685534, a case in which the U.S. Supreme Court reversed a death sentence because it was tainted by discredited testimony that appealed to the racial stereotype that African-American men are “violence prone.” The Chief Justice further noted that “when a jury hears expert testimony that expressly makes a defendant’s race directly pertinent on the question of life or death, the impact of that evidence cannot be measured simply by how much air time it received at trial or how many pages it occupies in the record. Some toxins can be deadly in small doses.”

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