View Poll Results: Were Judge Keller's actions proper?

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Thread: Texas Judge Goes to Trial Over Execution

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    Arrow Texas Judge Goes to Trial Over Execution

    Texas Judge Goes to Trial Over Execution

    By MICHAEL BRICK
    Published: August 17, 2009

    SAN ANTONIO — The highest-ranking criminal judge in Texas, the woman who presides over the most active execution chamber in the country, sat at a defense table on Monday to face charges of intentionally denying a condemned man access to the legal system.

    The judge, Sharon Keller of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, took her seat before a gallery crowded with bloggers, lawyers and death penalty protesters. Outside the courthouse, demonstrators called for her ouster. Inside, lawyers on both sides emphasized that capital punishment was not on trial.

    But to some, Judge Keller has come to embody the practice. An intensely private former member of the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office, she won election to the court in 1994 and to the post of presiding judge in 2000. She has cultivated a reputation for rulings favorable to the prosecution in death penalty cases.

    On Sept. 25, 2007, Judge Keller put in a 10-hour workday and went home around 4 p.m. to meet a repairman. That morning the United States Supreme Court had effectively suspended lethal injection as a manner of execution by accepting a challenge to its constitutionality in a Kentucky case.

    Largely on the basis of the justices’ action, lawyers for a Texas death row inmate were putting together an appeal to stave off execution. An assigned duty judge was waiting at the courthouse for any last-minute appeal on the inmate’s behalf.

    Around 4:45 p.m., the general counsel of Judge Keller’s court called her to relate a request to file paperwork after 5 p.m., the usual closing time for the court clerk’s office. Judge Keller replied that the clerk’s office closed at 5 p.m. A few hours later, the inmate was executed.

    [...]
    From what I've read, this judge should be impeached at the very least. The validity of the criminal justice system is severely undermined when a judge short circuits due process so cavalierly.

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    Re: Texas Judge Goes to Trial Over Execution

    Quote Originally Posted by Coronado View Post
    From what I've read, this judge should be impeached at the very least. The validity of the criminal justice system is severely undermined when a judge short circuits due process so cavalierly.
    "Put in a 10-hour workday"....that's a joke. Most judges I know stroll into their office around 9:00 and expect to be at the gym or on the golfcourse by 3.
    "to meet a repairman"....Judges seem to have an awful lot of home repairs that always need to be done. I've heard that excuse 1000 times.

    I can't tell you how many times I've seen judges get upset that their calendar is not running fast enough to get them finished by noon.

    I once almost got held in contempt because I had the audacity to tell the judge that the last time I checked we all got paid to be there until 5:00 and the courtroom should be open.

    Sounds to me like this judge, typical of most in my experience, let her office around 3:00 after putting in a "strenous" 6 hour day.
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    Re: Texas Judge Goes to Trial Over Execution

    Quote Originally Posted by Coronado View Post
    From what I've read, this judge should be impeached at the very least. The validity of the criminal justice system is severely undermined when a judge short circuits due process so cavalierly.
    This story is nothing but bull**** for scumbag sympathizers to use for their anti-death penalty campaign. Government offices have business hours just like regular offices.


    The incompetence is on the executed scumbag's lawyers.I would think any lawyer would know proper procedures.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/18/us/18judge.html?_r=1
    Judge Keller responds that the lawyers for the inmate, Michael Richard, a convicted murderer who made no claim of innocence, should have filed their paperwork with the assigned duty judge rather than trying to go through the clerk’s office.
    Last edited by jamesrage; 08-19-09 at 02:45 PM.
    "A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within. An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and carries his banner openly. But the traitor moves amongst those within the gate freely, his sly whispers rustling through all the alleys, heard in the very halls of government itself. For the traitor appears not a traitor; he speaks in accents familiar to his victims, and he wears their face and their arguments, he appeals to the baseness that lies deep in the hearts of all men. He rots the soul of a nation, he works secretly and unknown in the night to undermine the pillars of the city, he infects the body politic so that it can no longer resist. A murder is less to fear"

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    Re: Texas Judge Goes to Trial Over Execution

    Quote Originally Posted by jamesrage View Post
    This story is nothing but bull**** for scumbag sympathizers to use for their anti-death penalty campaign. Government offices have business hours just like regular offices.


    The incompetence is on the executed scumbag's lawyers.I would think any lawyer would know proper procedures.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/18/us/18judge.html?_r=1
    Judge Keller responds that the lawyers for the inmate, Michael Richard, a convicted murderer who made no claim of innocence, should have filed their paperwork with the assigned duty judge rather than trying to go through the clerk’s office.
    They are arguing that they did follow normal procedures and were experiencing computer problems. I'm not sure how you can rationally chalk that up to the defendant's lawyers or anti-death penalty activists ...

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    Re: Texas Judge Goes to Trial Over Execution

    Going home early on a day when someone is going to be executed after learning the supreme court is taking on a case regarding lethal injection is simply acceptable. A blind monkey could have predicted that the defense would respond to the ruling and the judge should have been at work to handle the request.

    Furthermore, she failed to notify the judge who was covering her shift about what happened.

    Another judge was waiting at the court for after-hours pleadings in the case but was never notified of the communications from the defense, as required by court policy, the commission concluded.
    Looks to me like somebody needs to find a new job where their mistakes don't get people killed.

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    Re: Texas Judge Goes to Trial Over Execution

    Quote Originally Posted by Coronado View Post
    They are arguing that they did follow normal procedures and were experiencing computer problems. I'm not sure how you can rationally chalk that up to the defendant's lawyers or anti-death penalty activists ...
    I would think lawyers filing appeals would know all the proper procedures and would have went to the assigned assigned duty judge. Is this the first appeal these lawyers have ever filed.
    "A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within. An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and carries his banner openly. But the traitor moves amongst those within the gate freely, his sly whispers rustling through all the alleys, heard in the very halls of government itself. For the traitor appears not a traitor; he speaks in accents familiar to his victims, and he wears their face and their arguments, he appeals to the baseness that lies deep in the hearts of all men. He rots the soul of a nation, he works secretly and unknown in the night to undermine the pillars of the city, he infects the body politic so that it can no longer resist. A murder is less to fear"

    Cicero Marcus Tullius

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    Re: Texas Judge Goes to Trial Over Execution

    Quote Originally Posted by jamesrage View Post
    I would think lawyers filing appeals would know all the proper procedures and would have went to the assigned assigned duty judge. Is this the first appeal these lawyers have ever filed.
    Basically what happened (which one wouldn't know from the story I linked to -- my fault there) is that they did what was customarily done, which wasn't straight-up by the book, but is what all defense attorneys in that court had always done and had never had a problem before.

    I'll see if I can find the article where I read that.

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    fyi Re: Texas Judge Goes to Trial Over Execution

    Quote Originally Posted by Coronado View Post
    Basically what happened (which one wouldn't know from the story I linked to -- my fault there) is that they did what was customarily done, which wasn't straight-up by the book, but is what all defense attorneys in that court had always done and had never had a problem before.

    I'll see if I can find the article where I read that.
    Okay, here it is, on page four:
    Soon the judge will have her own day in court, before special master Berchelmann. Her defense will rest on several things, first and most important her interpretation of the infamous phone call. She has said she thought Marty was asking specifically about the clerk’s office, which, like all state offices, closes at five and never stays open late. “It is clear that Judge Keller did not have a duty to do anything other than what she did,” her response to the CJC says, “which was to answer a question about whether the clerk’s office closes at 5:00 p.m.” In other words, Keller followed the rules—as she had always done. But Marty told the CJC that he said either “They want the court to stay open late” or “They want to hold the court open.” If Berchelmann determines that he said (and that Keller understood him to say) “court,” the special master might rule that Keller had a duty to do more than she did. That’s because for years the CCA has had an unwritten policy of keeping the court open on execution days, even after the clerk’s office closes (which would explain why Johnson, Price, and Womack stayed late that night). This informal practice was carried out through the general counsel’s office. Wetzel, who held the post from 1987 to 2003, says, “Typically lawyers would contact judges through me, and I’d get in touch with the other judges and get a vote on what was filed. Defense lawyers had my phone number—they could call me at home. I had pleadings delivered to my home, or they’d fax things after-hours. My experience with defense lawyers—they know that five p.m. doesn’t mean the court is closed.”
    Emphasis mine.

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    Re: Texas Judge Goes to Trial Over Execution

    Edit: Decided to withdraw the comment on further reflection.
    Last edited by Harshaw; 08-19-09 at 04:52 PM.
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    Re: Texas Judge Goes to Trial Over Execution

    Quote Originally Posted by Coronado View Post
    From what I've read, this judge should be impeached at the very least. The validity of the criminal justice system is severely undermined when a judge short circuits due process so cavalierly.
    Let’s review the FACTS of this violent THUG rather than the nonsensical hyperbole of this thread:

    The crime was committed over 23 years ago.

    He was convicted and showed no remorse.

    He appealed and the appeals court upheld the conviction.

    The case went to the Supreme Court and his conviction and the issue of lethal injection was upheld.

    Now what is begging the question is why so many Liberals and perhaps SOME independents are so desperate to take the side of a convicted killer who shows no remorse?

    This is another of those Alice and Wonderland moments where up is down, down is up, wrong is right and right is wrong; the killer is the innocent victim and the Judge is the evil bad person.

    There are no FACTS to support the lame efforts of a minority of weirdo’s in this nation who want to release and protect violent THUG criminals who prey on the innocents and law abiding in this country. It’s more of the same asinine logic of the war protestors who blame America for the actions of terrorists, thugs and murderers.

    This is another case of how despicable Attorneys who represent thugs try to PLAY the system and then when they lose their cases, impugn the people protecting our citizens from these violent THUGS; nothing more, nothing less.

    Michael Wayne Richard was dressed for his execution in Texas' death house on Sept. 25 when the U.S. Supreme Court announced at 7:30 p.m. that it wouldn't postpone the convicted killer's lethal injection.
    In hours before last execution, a frenzied legal fight - USATODAY.com

    Michael Wayne Richard, 48, was executed by lethal injection on 25 September 2007 in Huntsville, Texas for the rape, robbery, and murder of a woman in her home.

    On the afternoon of 18 August 1986, Richard, then 26, was in front of the Hockley home of Marguerite Dixon, 53. Richard approached Dixon's son, Albert, and asked if the van parked in the driveway was for sale. When Albert Dixon told him the van belonged to his brother who was out of town, Richard left.

    Richard admitted being involved in Dixon's death and helped police track down the murder weapon. His fingerprints were also found on the sliding-glass door to the victim's home. He claimed that the gun discharged accidentally.

    Richard had previous served parts of two prison sentences for home burglary. In March 1978, he was sent to prison on a 6-year sentence. He was paroled in May 1981. In January 1985, he was returned to prison on a 5-year sentence. He was paroled in June 1986, about two months before Dixon's murder.

    A jury convicted Richard of capital murder in September 1987 and sentenced him to death. In September 1992, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals overturned his conviction because the jury was not instructed to consider his history as an abused child as a possible mitigating factor when determining his punishment. In a new trial in June 1995, a jury again convicted Richard of capital murder and sentenced him to death. The TCCA affirmed this conviction and sentence in June 1997. All of his subsequent appeals in state and federal court were denied.


    Texas Execution Information - Report: Michael Richard


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