Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Protestors call for Texas judge Sharon Keller to resign

06:42 PM CDT on Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Protestors visited the Austin home of Texas Court of Criminal Appeals presiding judge Sharon Keller Tuesday night, as a decision she made in late September continues to draw a flurry of judicial complaints.

On September 25, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to consider the constitutionality of lethal injection. As the issue is pending, every scheduled execution nationwide has been put on hold.

Except for one.

Convicted killer Michael Richard was set to die the same day the high court set its docket. His attorneys filed an appeal to Keller's court, but didn't get the filings in until 5:20pm. Keller refused to keep the court open, saying "we close at five."

"A man was executed that shouldn't have been executed that night," said Scott Cobb, who led the Tuesday protest. "He certainly was guilty, from everything we know about this case. But even the guilty are protected under the United States constitution."

Other judges who were working late Sept. 25 said they would have reviewed the post-deadline appeal.

The protest is accompanied by an additional judicial complaint, signed now by more than 1,200 Texans. Lawmakers, lawyers and advocacy groups have filed separate judicial complaints against Keller. It's up to the State Commission on Judicial Conduct to decide whether Keller is reprimanded.

"She has violated the public trust that the people of Texas put into her when we elected her and she's also damaged the integrity of the entire Texas judicial system," Cobb said.

Keller, who was first elected in 1994 as a tough-on-crime Republican, did not comment for this story. Questions were directed to Judge Tom Price, whose office didn't return KVUE's calls as of Tuesday evening.

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