Thursday, August 20, 2009

In the Matter of Judge Sharon Keller

Judge Sharon Keller defends her actions in a case where lawyers for a deathrow inmate tried to get extra time for last-minute appeal and were denied:

In her testimony Wednesday, Keller blamed her legal woes on Richard's lawyers with the Texas Defender Service, or TDS, and said her decision to close the court clerk's office at 5 p.m. should not have stopped them from filing their briefs directly with one of the court's nine judges or with the general counsel."
"Those articles were the result of misinformation from TDS attorneys to the press regarding the time they had been ready to file, the length of the pleadings and whether they were volunteers," she said. "

The COURT CLOSED, but the opportunity to accept briefs did not. The TDS lawyers filed NO briefs. They screwed up. End of story. It's not a Judge's job to turn a court into an 24-hr 7-11 mart for lawyers. It's the lawyers job to know and follow the rules, and they did have the opportunity to serve filings outside the court, directly to Judges. This was noted by the defense in closing arguments, as the Judge Keller trial wrapped up:

By saying the court clerk's office closes at 5 p.m. — a time set by state law — Keller did not stop lawyers with the Texas Defender Service from filing any appeals, Babcock said.

Those lawyers failed to remember, or did not know, that appellate rules allow the court's general counsel or any of its nine judges to accept pleadings, he said.

"Judge Keller didn't close the court to anyone. Mr. Richard's lawyer never knocked on the right doors, and they gave up," Babcock said.

Incompetent TDS lawyers who screwed up made her the scapegoat for their own failures, as a way to go after a Judge who is not similarly anti-death-penalty. This editorial is wrong. This: "Keller's critics say closing the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals to the appeal was callous. " ... is a lie. the courthouse was closed, but Keller did NOT stop after-hours appeals to the Judges from being filed, and TDS knew who the Judge was who was assigned (Judge Johnson *not* Keller).

This appeal was about a convicted man who committed a rape and murder in 1986 and was finally after over 20 years getting his just punishment. 20 years wasnt enough time for appeals, but they needed another 20 minutes and that would make a difference?!?

If Judge Keller is going to get railroaded because she didn't handhold a sloppy last-minute appeal, any Judge will be at risk to such abuse. So appeals will get ever more frivolous and
unbound by rules of procedure. TDS has lied about this, and Judge Keller's good name has been dragged through the mud. Keller did nothing wrong with the possible exception of informing Judge Johnson (although it's odd that the Court Counsel wouldn't be the one held responsible for that - and he claims he did speak with Judge Johnson).

Judge Keller deserves to have her name cleared on this.


Anonymous said...

Keller is a right wing nut and you are too.

Freedom's Truth said...

I was going to state that this is a political persecution but I think you made the point for me. she is attacked for her politics not her insistence on following the law wrt when courts are open.

In case you havent noticed 60% of Texans think and vote like Judge Keller. we support the death penalty for rapist-murderers.