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Saturday, October 06, 2007

Sharon Keller - Human Rights Activist or Unethical Judge?

Sharon Keller thinks that failing to impose capital punishment is "a human rights violation". At least that is what she told the Houston Chronicle in 1994.

Her peculiar understanding of human rights may explain why she refused to accept a late appeal from Michael Richard on the day of his execution in which he was asking for a stay while the U.S. Supreme Court considers whether the drugs used in lethal injections violate the 8th Amendment's protection against cruel and unusual punishment. She may have thought she was exercising her own human right to impose capital punishment and that trumped whatever constitutional rights Richard might have had.

In 2001, the Houston Chronicle published an article in which it quoted from a 1994 interview with Sharon Keller when she first ran for a position on the Court of Criminal Appeals: :

During her campaign to replace outgoing Judge Chuck Miller, Keller criticized the sitting court as too lenient and openly displayed her support for the death penalty.

In an opinion piece the Chronicle published a month before Keller was elected, she called the failure to impose capital punishment on convicted murderers "a human rights violation -- particularly if we take into account the human rights that murderers violate when left alive to kill again."

Keller, a former appellate prosecutor for Dallas County, said in a recent interview that her strong views do not affect the way she decides capital cases.

"We look at the arguments of both parties," she said.
Of course, now we know that she meant she looks at the arguments of both parties unless they arrive twenty minutes after 5 PM on the day of an execution, then she doesn't look at anything.

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