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Thursday, October 18, 2007

Today's Killer Attacks from Columnists


Photo by Jana Birchum

In the photo are TMN's Scott Cobb and Alison Dieter at the press conference at the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals for the announcement that 20 lawyers, including State Rep Harold Dutton, were filing a complaint against Keller.

Jordan Smith of the Austin Chronicle is reporting that Jim Harrington has "filed a grievance with the Texas Bar Association, seeking a revocation of Sharon Keller's law license."

Hmm, wonder what job Keller will get if she can't be a lawyer anymore. She could be a prison guard, but the warden might not trust her alone after 5 with the inmates. She might start executing them on our own. Sign the complaint against Keller. 708 people have signed so far.

Rebeca Chapa of the San Antonio Express News writes in "In Texas, hang 'em high justice has dropped to a new low"
Let me see if I have this right.

Judge Sharon Keller, the presiding judge of the state's highest criminal court, doesn't see anything wrong with closing the court's doors at 5 p.m. sharp on a day when 1) the U.S. Supreme Court announces it will hear a precedent-setting lethal injection case and 2) a Texas man is set to be executed by lethal injection.

Wow. That's some Texas justice there, boy.

Hooman Hedayti, who is writing a column this semester for the Daily Texan says in "Killer Keller Must Resign":
To close at 5 p.m. and refuse to accept an appeal by a person about to be executed is a violation of judicial responsibility. When a person is about to be executed, our state's highest criminal court needs to remain open for business. As long as Keller is in office, the people of Texas cannot be sure that justice is being done with integrity. Judge Sharon Keller should resign or be removed from office by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct, which is responsible for investigating allegations of judicial misconduct.

If you are as shocked as I was by Judge Sharon Keller's refusal to accept an appeal 20 minutes after 5 p.m. from lawyers representing a man about to be executed, then sign on to the general public complaint against Judge Sharon Keller by going to SharonKiller.com. The complaint will be submitted to the State Commission on Judicial Conduct on Oct. 30.
and Jordan Smith of the Austin Chronicle says in "Closing Time? Attorneys Call for Justice's Head":
Keller claimed she was unaware that Dow had encountered computer problems and would need more time to get the appeal filed – but that's either a lie or it indicates a serious internal communication problem at the court. Although Keller and CCA general counsel Ed Marty have said that the 5pm deadline is standard for the court, it doesn't appear that the other CCA judges knew anything about the supposed rule. Several justices stayed late at work that evening in anticipation of the last-minute appeal; and Judge Cheryl Johnson, who was assigned to handle the Richard case, had no idea that Keller set the clearly arbitrary 5pm deadline. Johnson told the Austin American-Statesman that she was "dismayed" by Keller's decision. "And I was angry," she said. "If I'm in charge of the execution, I ought to have known about those things, and I ought to have been asked whether I was willing to stay late and accept those filings."

In addition to refusing last-minute appeals, Keller's office told the Chronicle that the judge is now declining to "accept any calls" regarding her actions in the Richard case. Similarly, Marty did not return calls requesting comment, nor did Judge Tom Price to whom the Chronicle was referred for comment. (Interestingly, Price dissented from the court's decision last month to deny Turner's stay, opining that he didn't understand why the court would be willing to allow executions to go forward when the legality of the method was in question.) As such, at press time it was unclear whether the 5pm deadline – or, perhaps, the Keller Rule – is in fact standard procedure at all; judging by Johnson's response, it's hard to imagine that it is. Indeed, it is standard practice for courts to remain ready to accept such last-minute death-penalty appeals. University of Texas Law professor Jordan Steiker, who teaches constitutional law and is an expert in death penalty jurisprudence, said he doesn't know of any other court handling death row appeals that claims such a deadline. "The decision by the [CCA] to close its doors follows in a long line of resistance by the court to constitu­tion­al norms," he said, "and what is often said of boxing is certainly true for this court – it is a court without an eye left to blacken."

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