Before his execution Tuesday, convicted murderer Chris Young targeted Texas’ secretive clemency process. He had sued the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles, charging that it rejected his clemency petition because he is black.
In his final fight before his execution Tuesday, Chris Young targeted Texas’ secretive clemency process. On Friday, the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles unanimously rejected Young’s clemency petition. Hours later, Young’s lawyers filed suit against the board members, claiming that they likely voted against a recommendation to reduce his sentence or halt his execution because he is black, reports the Texas Tribune. The appeal was a long shot, and one he ultimately lost in federal court before the state put him to death for the 2004 robbery and murder of Hasmukh Patel at Patel’s San Antonio store.
Though unsuccessful, the late filing highlighted a long-established criticism of Texas clemency: the reasoning for the board’s decision is unknown to the public, and members usually cast their votes remotely without comment or a hearing. Though members must certify that they do not cast their votes because of the inmate’s race, they also don’t have to give any reason for their decision. The state noted in its response to the filing that the appeal doesn’t point to any specific evidence of racial discrimination. U.S. District Judge Keith Ellison reluctantly rejected the filing, expressing frustration with his inability to allow for further examination of potential racial bias. “Those engaging in race discrimination seldom announce their motivations,” Ellison wrote. “It is no small tragedy that in this case neither Plaintiff nor Defendants will ever know what role, if any, racial bias has played.” Young was 21 when he entered Patel’s San Antonio store in 2004 and fatally shot Patel during an attempted robbery. He was sentenced to death in 2006.