More on Sharon “Killer” Keller Complaint

 Posted on October 16, 2007 in Uncategorized

Death penalty enthusiasts are chortling about Judge Sharon Keller's action in closing the courthouse doors to Mr. Richard. A common theme among their responses is "blame the lawyers." One [anonymous] sample, in comments to my first post on the subject:

Why didn't the lawyers who needed to file do so BEFORE the court closed????? That is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard. She closed on time, so you're filing a lawsuit against her?HELLO???? Is anyone out there?????Apparently not. Get real. You're supposedly fighting for a man's life and are running 20 minutes late? What a JOKE!!!!!!!!

Here's Houston criminal-defense lawyer Troy McKinney's (an HCCLA past president and, more importantly, my attorney) reply to the argument that Keller was just following the rules, from comments on today's Houston Chronicle editorial calling for Keller's ouster:

The Supreme Court of the United States did not grant certiorari on the case involving the chemicals used in the death solution until that day. There were not days and weeks to prepare. There was less than one full day. As I understand it, it took until afternoon to get the materials that were used to obtain the review in DC and then the rest of the afternoon to draft the materials for the Court of Criminal Appeals. Although the Texas Supreme Court allows email or fax filing of emergency matters, Judge Keller also refused to allow the petition and motion to be filed by fax or email. The court even refused to allow a single copy to be filed immediately and the remaining 11 required copies (of the several hundred page document) to be filed shortly thereafter. At 5:20 p.m., when it was ready to file, the doors to the clerks office were locked so there was no way to get it to the people at the court (including in the clerk's office) who were still at the court.Never before has the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals not been available on the day, evening, or night of an execution to accept whatever, if anything, was to be filed - unless they were told in advance that nothing would be filed. Of course, here, Judge Keller through the clerk and staff was told that something would be filed and she made a conscious decision not to allow it be by closing the court and making the clerk's office unavailable.The decisions made by Presiding Judge Keller are inexcusable.The Harris County Criminal Lawyers Association is also filing a complaint with the Judicial Conduct Commission. There will be over 100 local lawyers who sign it.

Various non-lawyers (including at least one Texas judge) have joined HCCLA's complaint to the Texas Commission on Judicial Conduct against Judge Sharon Keller. If you didn't get an opportunity to do so, you can join Texas Moratorium Network's complaint, which appears to be substantially the same as HCCLA's complaint and will be filed in two weeks.

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