Saldano v. Texas

530 U.S. 1212, 120 S. Ct. 2214, 147 L. Ed. 2d 246 (2000)

From our private database of 46,000+ case briefs, written and edited by humans—never with AI.

Saldano v. Texas

United States Supreme Court
530 U.S. 1212, 120 S. Ct. 2214, 147 L. Ed. 2d 246 (2000)

Facts

[Editor’s Note: The facts are taken from the Texas solicitor general’s brief submitted in response to Saldano’s petition for writ of certiorari.] In 1996 Victor Hugo Saldano (defendant) and an accomplice killed a man named Paul King. The murder was completely random, and Saldano did not know King. Before Saldano’s trial, he confessed to shooting King four times, including a shot to the head, to be certain that King was dead. Saldano stated that he did not feel anything during the murder. During the trial’s penalty phase, the jury was instructed to determine the likelihood that Saldano would commit violent acts in the future, further endangering society. The jury considered Saldano’s lack of remorse, his fairly young age, the randomness of his crime, and his prior criminal conduct leading up to King’s murder. This evidence was sufficient to warrant the jury’s determination of Saldano’s future dangerousness. However, Texas also called a witness who testified that a defendant’s race was one of 24 factors to be considered in assessing a defendant’s future dangerousness. The witness testified regarding the overrepresentation of Hispanics and African Americans in prisons and acknowledged that this overpopulation could be attributable to factors other than race. Yet the witness testified that Saldano, being from Argentina, was Hispanic, and that his race weighed in favor of a finding of his future dangerousness. Rather than objecting to testimony and exhibits indicating that race should be considered, Saldano’s attorney instead chose to challenge whether the data was reliable and whether Saldano was Hispanic. During closing arguments, Texas instructed the jury to use the witness’s 24 factors, which included race. The jury found that Saldano was a future danger and sentenced him to death. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed Saldano’s conviction. Saldano petitioned the United States Supreme Court for review because his attorney had failed to object to the testimony that race should be used in assessing his future dangerousness. Amazingly, the Texas solicitor general confessed to error, writing that the use of race as a factor in determining whether a defendant represented a future danger to society hindered the fairness and integrity of the judicial process. Although the solicitor general thought there was sufficient evidence to justify the jury’s finding that Saldano represented a future danger, the solicitor general believed the use of race was unconstitutional. The solicitor general asked the Supreme Court to grant Saldano’s petition, vacate Saldano’s sentence, and remand for a new hearing on sentencing at which Saldano’s race would not be considered.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Per curiam)

What to do next…

  1. Unlock this case brief with a free (no-commitment) trial membership of Quimbee.

    You’ll be in good company: Quimbee is one of the most widely used and trusted sites for law students, serving more than 742,000 law students since 2011. Some law schools—such as Yale, Berkeley, and Northwestern—even subscribe directly to Quimbee for all their law students.

    Unlock this case briefRead our student testimonials
  2. Learn more about Quimbee’s unique (and proven) approach to achieving great grades at law school.

    Quimbee is a company hell-bent on one thing: helping you get an “A” in every course you take in law school, so you can graduate at the top of your class and get a high-paying law job. We’re not just a study aid for law students; we’re the study aid for law students.

    Learn about our approachRead more about Quimbee

Here's why 742,000 law students have relied on our case briefs:

  • Written by law professors and practitioners, not other law students. 46,000 briefs, keyed to 986 casebooks. Top-notch customer support.
  • The right amount of information, includes the facts, issues, rule of law, holding and reasoning, and any concurrences and dissents.
  • Access in your classes, works on your mobile and tablet. Massive library of related video lessons and high quality multiple-choice questions.
  • Easy to use, uniform format for every case brief. Written in plain English, not in legalese. Our briefs summarize and simplify; they don’t just repeat the court’s language.

Access this case brief for FREE

With a 7-day free trial membership
Here's why 742,000 law students have relied on our case briefs:
  • Reliable - written by law professors and practitioners, not other law students
  • The right length and amount of information - includes the facts, issue, rule of law, holding and reasoning, and any concurrences and dissents
  • Access in your class - works on your mobile and tablet
  • 46,000 briefs - keyed to 986 casebooks
  • Uniform format for every case brief
  • Written in plain English - not in legalese and not just repeating the court's language
  • Massive library of related video lessons - and practice questions
  • Top-notch customer support

Access this case brief for FREE

With a 7-day free trial membership