Saturday, October 13, 2007

Several updates

1. A big thank you to Abe for posting while I was away! As Abe noted, this blog earlier this week marked its 150,000th visitor and the Troy Anthony Davis YouTube page marked 6,000 screenings (actually, it topped 7,000 yesterday!)

2. We are to understand that a certain corporate attorney and vehement death penalty supporter has been trolling over at our Tennessee affiliate's blog. This guy -- he goes by "federalist" on at least a couple of blogs, but we'll refer to him as "sean" -- has spent hundreds and hundreds of hours trying to entice anti-death penalty folks into fights with his inaccuracies and mischaracterizations (the latest: the death penalty does not discriminate on the basis of race).

3. The story that will not die: While I was away, 19 lawyers in Texas, including some big names, filed a judicial complaint against Sharon Keller, chief justice of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. It's funny how the pro-death penalty crowd has largely been silent on this story. But here's the latest, from

Judge: 'We Close at 5'
Texas Judge's Decison To Close On Time Lead to Immediate Execution
Reported by Jim Avila, ABC News Senior Law & Justice Correspondent

Four words -- "We close at 5" -- enforced by Texas judge Sharon Keller led to
the almost immediate execution of convicted murderer Michael Richard.

Three hours after Keller refused to keep her courthouse open past closing time
to receive the condemned killer's request to stay his execution, Richard was

"If Sharon Keller had not slammed the door, Mr. Richard would still be alive,"
said Jim C. Harrington, director of Texas Defender Service .

Richard's attorney's computer broke down, and when they called the courthouse
asking for a little more time, just 20 minutes more, Judge Keller ordered the
court clerk not to wait for the appeal that could have at least temporarily
stopped his execution.

After the execution, prominent defense attorneys from across Texas signed an
official complaint against Keller, asking the Texas Commission on Judicial
Conduct to disciplined or fire her.

"This execution proceeded because the highest criminal court couldn't be
bothered to stay an extra 20 minutes on the night of an execution," said
Andrea Keilen, executive director of Texas Defender Service.

It's not just the attorneys complaining. In a rare development, other judges
on the appeals court -- three of whom stayed late in the courthouse waiting to
rule on Richard's motion -- have criticized Keller's decision.

Judge Cheryl Johnson, who was expecting to rule on the case, told the Austin
American-Statesman she was dismayed by Keller's decision. "And I was angry,"
she told the paper. "If I'm in charge of the execution, I ought to have known
about those things … I mean this is a death."

Richard's appeal was not a surprise because the U.S. Supreme Court has let it
be known that it would soon decide if lethal injection is cruel and unusual
punishment. Until the Supreme Court rules, the death penalty is practically on
hold in the United States.

Keller refused several ABC News requests for comment, but the judge did defend
her actions in a Texas newspaper.

"I think the question ought to be why didn't they file something on time. They
had all day," she told the Houston Chronicle.

Or at least until 5 p.m. and not a minute more -- even when life depended on it.

1 comment:

PersianCowboy said...

If you are as shocked as we were by the refusal of Judge Sharon Keller to accept an appeal 20 minutes after 5 PM by lawyers representing a man about to be executed, then sign on to this complaint. We will submit this complaint to the State Commission on Judicial Conduct on October 30, 2007. In order for your name to count on the complaint for the submission, you must provide all the requested contact information, including your phone number and occupation.

We must also have your signature, so download the signature form PDF version , MS Word version and fax it to +15124028428 or mail it to Scott Cobb at 3616 Far West Blvd, Suite 117, Box 251, Austin, Texas 78731. If you would like to download a copy of the complaint for your records, click here