• Campagnes

Further information on EXTRA 02/92 (AMR 51/09/92, 10 January and follow-ups AMR 51/11/92, 17 January, AMR 51/13/92, 22 January, AMR 51/32/92, 9 March, AMR 51/40/92, 17 March, AMR 51/60/92, 30 April, AMR 51/72/92, 2 June, AMR 51/83/92, 30 June, AMR 51/100/

, N° d'index: AMR 51/122/1992

AI has received more information about Delma Banks, black, who was convicted of the murder of a white man in 1980 and who is scheduled to be executed on 1 December 1992. Recent research by his attorneys and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund Inc. shows that prosecutors in Bowie County, Texas (where Banks was tried), systematically excluded blacks from juries for at least 6 years up to the time of his trial. In addition, a recent psychological examination found him to have an IQ of 85 in his best functioning range and to have problems associated with brain damage. Delma Banks had no prior criminal record when convicted. The jury was apparently not told that the main prosecution witness, also involved in the crime, testified in return for lenient treatment.

EXTERNAL (for general distribution) AI Index: AMR 51/122/92
Distr: UA/SC
20 November 1992
Please bring this action to the attention of the person responsible for outreach
work in your section as appeals are particularly welcome from organizations or
individuals representing minorities or who work on race issues.
Further information on EXTRA 02/92 (AMR 51/09/92, 10 January 1992) and follow-ups
AMR 51/11/92, 17 January 1992, AMR 51/13/92, 22 January 1992, AMR 51/32/92, 9 March
1992, AMR 51/40/92, 17 March 1992, AMR 51/60/92, 30 April 1992, AMR 51/72/92, 2 June
1992, AMR 51/83/92, 30 June 1992, AMR 51/100/92, 3 September 1992, and AMR 51/116/92,
3 November 1992.
USA: (Texas) Delma Banks
Amnesty International has received further information on Delma Banks, who is
scheduled to be executed in Texas on 1 December 1992. Banks, black, was convicted
in 1980 of the shooting murder of Richard Wayne Whitehead, white. He was tried and
sentenced by an all-white jury after the prosecutor had excluded all prospective
black jurors from jury service, by use of peremptory challenges (the right to exclude
jurors without giving reasons).
Recent research conducted by Banks' attorneys and the legal rights group, the NAACP
(National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) Legal Defense and
Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) shows that prosecutors in Bowie County, Texas, where
Banks was tried, systematically excluded blacks from serving on trial juries for
at least the six years prior to and up to the time of Banks' trial. As a result,
blacks comprised less than 2 per cent of the criminal trial juries in the county,
although making up 21 per cent of the county population. An LDF spokesperson has
said that this evidence constitutes one of the strongest examples of racial
discrimination in Texas in jury selection the organization has encountered in recent
The US Supreme Court ruled in 1986, in Batson v Kentucky, that prosecutors may not
exclude jurors in any case solely on account of their race as this was contrary to
the Equal Protection clause of the US Constitution. However, the Batson ruling was
held not to be retroactive to past cases and Banks cannot benefit from it. However,
his lawyers have filed an appeal based on an earlier Supreme Court ruling which would
allow reversal of a conviction if it can be proved that prosecutors have systematically
excluded jurors on racial grounds in a particular jurisdiction. This appeal was still
pending at the time of writing.
A recent psychological evaluation found Delma Banks to have a full scale IQ of 85
in his "best functioning range". The evaluation also found gross deficiencies in
his long-term memory, spelling, reading and comprehension, together with other
problems associated with brain damage. As a child he suffered from severe allergies,
was continually covered in sores and found it difficult to mix with other children.
He also suffered a certain amount of physical abuse as a child.
Delma Banks had no prior criminal record when convicted of capital murder. Amnesty
International has been told that the trial jury was not informed that the main
prosecution witness against him, who was also involved in the crime and other offenses,
testified in return for receiving lenient treatment.
A major study on racial discrimination conducted in the 1970s found that, in Texas,
black offenders who killed white victims were six times more likely to be sentenced
to death than white offenders in white-victim cases. Studies conducted nationwide
have shown that murders involving white victims are far more likely to result in
death sentences than those with black victims.
Page 2 of 10FU EXTRA 02/92
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Telegrams/telephone calls/faxes/express and airmail letters in
English if possible:
- urging the Board of Pardons and Paroles to convene a clemency hearing to consider
the case of Delma Banks';
- asking the Board to recommend that Governor Richards grant clemency to Delma Banks;
- expressing concern about evidence of racial discrimination in the jury selection
in Delma Banks' trial, and in the county where he was tried.
Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles Salutation: Dear Board Members
8610 Shoal Creek Boulevard, PO Box 13401
Capitol Station
Austin, TX 78578-6887
Telegrams: Texas Board Pardons/Paroles, Austin, TX 78758-6887, USA
Telephone: + 1 512 459 2782
Faxes: + 1 512 459 2790
Mr Jack D Kyle Salutation: Dear Mr Kyle
Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles
2503 Lake Road, Ste 9
Huntsville, TX 77340-5737
Telegrams: Mr Kyle, Huntsville TX 77340-5737, USA
Telephone: + 1 409 291 2161
Faxes: + 1 409 291 6852
The Honourable Ann Richards
Governor of Texas
Office of the Governor
PO Box 12428, Capitol Station
Austin, TX 78711
Faxes: + 1 512 463 1849
The following newspapers:
The Letters Editor
Austin American Statesman
Box 670
Austin, TX 78767
Fax: +1 512 445 3679
The Letters Editor
Houston Chronicle
801 Texas Avenue
Houston, TX 77002
Faxes: +1 713 220 7868
and diplomatic representatives of the USA accredited to your

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