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Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Video of Keith Hampton - Democratic Candidate for Texas Court of Criminal Appeals

Watch video of Keith Hampton.


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  • A Lifetime of Service
    HamptonIf elected, Keith Hampton will be the only judge who has handled death penalty cases in all stages of litigation – from accusation, trial, appeal and all post-conviction proceedings, including appearing before the Supreme Court of the United States.
    Growing up in Texas, a life-long Democrat, Keith Hampton began his career at age 17, as the youngest precinct chairperson for the Texas Democratic Party.
    For the last twenty years, Keith has defended the Texas Constitution and the Constitution of the United States in hundreds of cases. As an active member of the criminal defense bar, a Fellow of the Texas Bar Foundation, and a member of the Pro Bono College of the State Bar of Texas, Keith has tirelessly worked for fairness, integrity and justice for all Texans.


    For the last twenty years, Keith has defended the Texas Constitution and the Constitution of the United States in hundreds of cases. As an active member of the criminal defense bar, a Fellow of the Texas Bar Foundation, and a member of the Pro Bono College of the State Bar of Texas, Keith has tirelessly worked for fairness, integrity and justice for all Texans.
    A Celebrated Career
    • Voted “Best Qualified” by the Lawyers of Texas in the 2010 Judicial Bar Poll
    • Winner of the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association President’s Awards for 7 straight years
    • 2003-2009 – Texas Monthly “Super Lawyer”
    • 2008 – Percy Foreman Lawyer of the Year
    • 1991 – present – Author/Speaker/Course Director, Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association
    • 1995-2005 – Legislative Director for the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association
    • 1989-90 – Briefing Attorney, Judge Sam Houston Clinton, Court of Criminal Appeals
    • 1989 – J.D., St. Mary’s University

    On the Issues: Returning Fairness to the Court of Criminal Appeals
    Keith Hampton is running for the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 6. He is challenging two-term incumbent, Republican Michael Keasler. When he was first elected in 1998, Keasler replaced the last Democrat to hold a seat on the Court, Judge Charlie Baird. Ever since, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals (CCA) has been under total Republican control.
    Without any Democrats holding seats on the CCA, the ideological spectrum of the Court has shifted dramatically to the right. One Republican judge on the Court, Lawrence Meyers, recently toured newspaper editorial boards promoting the state’s fairness, prompting Dallas Morning News Editor Michael Landauer to write, “Try not to laugh.” (Source: Dallas Morning News, June 2009). Scott Henson, an award-winning blogger who writes for the non-partisan criminal justice site, Grits for Breakfast, wrote the following about the political nature of the CCA:
    There is no liberal wing on the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. There’s a conservative wing, to which Judge Johnson belongs, and a more or less totalitarian wing, in which Keasler and Meyers reside along with Presiding Judge Sharon Keller. (Source: Grits for Breakfast, June 2009)
    The “totalitarian wing” of the Court has a well-documented and thoroughly perplexing history of unprofessional actions. From the “sleeping lawyer” case in October 2000, to investigations into the judicial conduct of Sharon Keller in 2007, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals is in desperate need of professional, accountable judges on its bench.
    The “sleeping lawyer” case before the Court in October 2000 focused on the 1984 murder trial of Calvin Burdine. It was discovered that Burdine’s lawyer dozed off “repeatedly” during the original murder trial, for up to ten minutes at a time. (Source:New York Times, June 2004). The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruled that “although Mr. Cannon had fallen asleep, it had not been during important bits of the trial and therefore the murder conviction and death sentence were upheld.” (Source:BBC News, August 2001).
    One positive outcome of the Court’s embarrassing ruling was that Texas Democrats fixed the law immediately. The following legislative session, in 2001, State Rep. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa (elected as a State Senator the following year) and Senator Rodney Ellis authored and passed Senate Bill 7, the Texas Fair Defense Act, which established a proper set of standards to overhaul Texas’ indigent criminal defense system. (Source: Texas Legislature Online).
    Unfortunately, the Court of Criminal Appeals didn’t wait long to fail again. On September 25, 2007, Judge Sharon Keller refused to keep the clerk’s office of the CCA open past 5pm, despite a direct request from lawyers of Michael Richard to keep them open to allow for an appeal on Richard’s death sentence – which was carried out that evening. Her fellow judge on the Court, Judge Cheryl Johnson, testified before the State Commission on Judicial Conduct that Keller violated their Court’s procedure. Johnson argued that it was she, not Keller, who should have made the decision on whether or not the Court should stay open, and that if she had been given the decision, she would have kept the Court open. (Source: Austin American-Statesman, August 2009)
    The formal hearing on Keller’s actions will be held on June 18, 2010. (Source: Texas Lawyer). At that date and time, the latest controversy of the Court of Criminal Appeals will be held even further under the microscope.
    However, the hearing will not change the reckless course of action the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has routinely taken over the years. In order to restore fairness and justice to the Court, it is essential that Texas Democrats work to elect Keith Hampton to the Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 6.

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