Sunday, October 07, 2007

Did Sharon Keller lie when she said "We close at 5"? Would such a lie constitute malfeasance or obstruction of justice?

When considering the behavior of Sharon Keller in the matter of Michael Richard, there are a couple of phrases that come to mind, at least to the mind of a non-lawyer: "obstruction of justice" and "malfeasance in office". There needs to be an official investigation, by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct in the first place, but also by the Travis County District Attorney. The purpose of the investigations should be to determine if Sharon Keller abused her official position to impede Michael Richard's access to the court and thus to justice.

According to newspaper reports Keller told the lawyers for Michael Richard: "We close at 5."

Does the Court of Criminal Appeals really close at 5? Does it close at all? What does it mean to close a court? Can one judge "close" a court?

The Houston Chronicle reports that "At least three judges were working late in the courthouse that evening, and others were available by phone if needed".

None of the judges was informed of Richard's request by Keller or by the court's general counsel, Edward Marty, who had consulted with Keller on the request."

If that is true, then the court did not close at 5 and Keller lied. If she told the lie to the clerk of the Court and asked that it be passed on to the defense lawyers, then she either committed obstruction of justice or malfeasance in office.

Judge Cathy Cochran asked the right question when she said:

"First off, was justice done in the Richard case? And secondly, will the public perceive that justice was done and agree that justice was done?" Cochran said. "Our courts should be open to always redress a true wrong, and as speedily as possible. That's what courts exist for."

It seems apparent that Justice was not done in the Richard case, and if it was not done because Keller dishonestly said "We close at 5", then there is no question that Keller is unfit to be a judge and should be removed from office.

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