Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Maybe Sharon Keller had a date?

Yesterday we published a Dallas Morning News editorial headlined, "We Closed at 5," which detailed Tuesday's execution of Carlton Turner. Turner was executed after the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals refused to remain open 20 minutes late so that his appeal could be filed with the court. Because the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals did not consider the appeal, the U.S. Supreme Court (which almost certainly would have granted a stay) procedurally could not act.

And Turner was executed.

Now we know a few more details. Seems that a request to remain open was put to the chief justice of the Texas CCA and she refused to notify the other justices about the request.
From the Austin American-Statesman:

It was revealed Tuesday that the decision was made by Presiding Judge
Sharon Keller without consulting any of the court's eight other judges or
later informing them about the decision -- including Judge Cheryl Johnson,
who was assigned to handle any late motions in Richard's case.

Johnson, who learned about the request to stay open past 5 p.m. in an
Austin American-Statesman story, said her first reaction to the news was
"utter dismay."

"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."

Johnson said she would have accepted the brief for consideration by the
court. "Sure," she said. "I mean, this is a death case."

Judge Cathy Cochran said the Richard case raised troubling questions.

"First off, was justice done in the Richard case? And secondly, will the
public perceive that justice was done and agree that justice was done?"
Cochran said. "Our courts should be open to always redress a true wrong,
and as speedily as possible. That's what courts exist for."

At least 3 judges were working late in the courthouse that evening, and
others were available by phone if needed, court personnel said.

None of the judges was informed of Richard's request by Keller or by the
court's general counsel, Edward Marty, who had consulted with Keller on
the request.

I'm usually not speechless. But for today, I think I'll make an exception.

No comments: