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The Texas Blue
Advancing Progressive Ideas

Judge Keller Gets Served

Whether Judge Sharon Keller exercised poor judgment in shutting down the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals at 5:00 despite attempts to stay the imminent execution of Michael Richard is a foregone conclusion. Now the legality of her actions will be examined in a lawsuit filed by Richard's wife, which asserts Richard was denied his right to file an appeal.

The Supreme Court's recent shift on the death penalty is indicative that a social shift is underway as well, but the lawsuit and Keller's actions indicate that there are still plenty of procedural (if not ideological) hills to climb.

This report about pressure in favor of execution from aides in the Attorney General's office is disappointing and has a very ghoulish quality to it. Outside of that, the public opinion on Keller's actions has solidified into staunch opposition and harsh criticism. Complaints are being filed and I can't imagine it will be long before everyone involved starts to look for a way out.

Numerous defense lawyers across the country have called for Keller to be disciplined by the Commission on Judicial Conduct, and more than 300 Texas lawyers have asked the appeals court to establish an electronic filing system.

The debate over the constitutionality of Judge Keller's decision will enter into this lawsuit, and this seems to be the next logical step for Richard's family to take. Scott over at Grits For Breakfast has some of the best and most complete coverage of the whole affair, and it is worth keeping up with. This might serve as an indicator of where public opinion on the death penalty might settle for the next several years.

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