Texas Monthly a couple of years ago called the CCA Texas' worst court, but they may have undersold that idea: If the Texas CCA isn't the worst appellate court in America, I don't know who would be their competition.
Someone from the clerk's office called Keller, who said no. She said she wasn't told that a computer failure was the problem, as if that made any difference. It was obvious from the Supreme Court's action that a legitimate issue would be raised.
In fact, in the week since Keller's callous closing, the U.S. Supreme Court has blocked one Texas execution and the Court of Criminal Appeals another, based on basically the same facts as Richard's.
Some of Keller's colleagues on the Court of Criminal Appeals were angered by her bureaucratic approach, especially since she didn't bother to inform them that an extension had been requested.
Judge Paul Womack told the Chronicle he stayed until 7 p.m.: "It was reasonable to expect an effort would be made with some haste in light of the Supreme Court (action). It was an important issue. I wanted to be sure to be available in case it was raised."
Judge Cheryl Johnson, who was assigned to handle any late motions in the Richard case, learned about the request from a story in the Austin American-Statesman, to her "utter dismay."
She told the paper: "And I was angry. 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."
Judge Cathy Cochran told the Chronicle: "I would definitely accept anything at any time from someone who was about to be executed."
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
Judge Sharon Keller didn't consult colleagues before rejecting last minute death penalty appeal
When Presiding Judge Sharon Keller refused to allow the clerk for the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals to stay open an extra 20 minutes to accept a recent death penalty appeal (Michael Richard was executed because she would not tolerate the delay), it turns out she did not consult with her colleagues on the court, some of whom stayed at work two hours late awaiting the appeal they were sure would come. When computers crashed at the Texas Defender Service and they called to ask for more time, reported Houston Chronicle columnist Rick Casey ("Keller shames Texas again,"):