Saturday, March 07, 2009

Covering for Keller: CCA Damage Control Tour 2009

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals sent one of its senior members around the state this week for an unusual PR blitz, according to the Dallas News editorial board:
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals wants to get a message out. And so senior Judge Lawrence E. Meyers embarked on a tour to convey it to major Texas newspapers. Here's the gist of his message: We're not as inept and indifferent as you think we are. Yes, Presiding Judge Sharon Keller decided 18 months ago to shut the court down with a death appeal and execution pending, but we have better procedures now. We even wrote them down. See, here's a printout. No more confusion. No, we don't know exactly happened that fateful night, but we're sure the upcoming hearing on Judge Keller will find out. Until then, don't judge us harshly. OK, then. But it's tougher and tougher to keep an open mind.
Judge Meyers insisted to the media his colleague Sharon Keller will stay the course and fight the charges against her, but this seems like a no-win situation for her. It's pretty clear Keller actually did all the things alleged, so if the Judicial Conduct Commission does nothing it will look like favoritism for a GOP muckety muck. If she's removed, she lives out her career in disgrace.

If she survives the removal hearing and the Commission only reprimands her, she'll be damaged goods that Democrats will beat on like a piƱata until 2012. She'll become the symbolic face of the whole court, to the extent that's not true already.

For those reasons, I'd half-expected Judge Keller to submit her resignation and allow Governor Perry to appoint her replacement, but it's beginning to look like she'll stick it out. There's no accounting for hubris.

Speaking of the state Commission on Judicial Conduct, Chuck Lindell at the Austin Statesman has an interesting piece analyzing what actions were taken by the commission against wayward judges last year, when ten judges were reprimanded publicly and another 26 privately. (There are descriptions of the private reprimands, though, that give enough detail where it would be possible to tell if Judge Keller receives one.) Three judges resigned last year rather than face disciplinary procedures.

RELATED: From Capitol Annex, "Giving Cover to Keller."

UPDATE: See this Dallas News piece in which we learn that a) Judge Cheryl Johnson personally filed a complaint against Keller with the Commission on Judicial Conduct in the Michael Richard case, b) Judge Johnson later had to intervene to ensure the new rules Judge Meyers was bragging on to the press were actually followed when the new general counsel tried to reject another last-minute capital appeal, and c) that general counsel's "predecessor retired under pressure because of his role in the Richard case."

MORE: See NY Times coverage of the case (3/8).

16 comments:

Mark Bennett said...

That it appears now that Keller will stick it out means little. Chuck Rosenthal wasn't going to stick it out. Then he was. Then he wasn't again.

Anonymous said...

Interesting how your site seems so critical of prosecutors and the kinds of evidence they use to convict crimials, but when it comes to Judge Keller, it's guilty until proven innocent. Do you have any personal knowledge about this case that did not come from newspapers and similar sources? Does the media have any interest in making this story about a guilty murderer who was justly sentenced and whose sentence was carried out despite last-minute frivolous motions that the attorneys intentionally filed late to make sure they could not be heard before the sentence was carried out? Maybe it sells more papers to slant the story against the judge, since otherwise it is no big deal?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous, you seem to have missed the point of all of these threads. It is not about protecting a "guilty murderer" or "frivolous motions." It is about protecting the process. It is about making sure that all i's are dotted and t's crossed in order to carry out the sentence handed down by the court. Yes, the issue brought up in the motion was ultimately decided by the Supreme Court against the accused. Yes, Richard was merely delaying the inevitible. But we must protect with every ounce of strength we have, the integrity of the process.

Don said...

Is anon 4:28 real name John Bradley, by chance?

Anonymous said...

Anon could be any of those folks who think they are "picking God's orchard" (direct quote from prosecutor acquaintance).

David Sergi said...

Anon 4 28 while you may never be strapped to a gurney, you may some day be accusedof a crime you did or did not do. You need system with integrity. Do you want a judge to pre judge you simp,y because you are the defendant? Think abuot it. Do I think your Bradley, I knowing him, he has the honor and conviction ( no pun intended) to put his name toa post.

Mark Bennett said...

Supporters of Keller say that Richard's death was inevitable, but there's a word for unlawfully causing someone's death earlier than was inevitable: murder.

Pirate Rothbard said...

Supporters of Keller say that Richard's death was inevitable, but there's a word for unlawfully causing someone's death earlier than was inevitable: murder.

Wow Mark... that is huge rhetorical overkill. It's one thing to oppose Sharon Keller, quite another to put her in the same group as Michael Richard . This was a terrible man and we shouldn't debase the word murder, it’s incredibly insensitive to the victims.

Pirate Rothbard said...

uh, the link didn't work. Here it is again: http://www.oag.state.tx.us/oagnews/release.php?print=1&id=2189

Mark Bennett said...

The Texas Constitution forbids outlawry. If the killing was unlawful, "he was a terrible man" is mitigation, not a defense. Terrible men get murdered too.

And I'm not about to stop telling the truth because it's "insensitive to the victims." The victims have enough undue influence over the polity. I'm not going to help with the creation of the victimocracy.

Anonymous said...

I think murder is the correct word here.

The fact that Keller used her position in the justice system to unlawfully carry it out is unconscionable and criminal.

Thanks Mr. Bennett.

Rage Judicata said...

Maybe Mr. Bennett could sit down with Judge Keller and have a "constructive discussion" with her to make sure it won't happen again.

Anonymous said...

The CCA is dreaming if they think there is any way to control damage to their reputation due to Ms. Keller. They should all public insist on her resignation immediately. That's the only way they can hope to have any respect.

Larry said...

"The fact that Keller used her position in the justice system to unlawfully carry it out is unconscionable and criminal." - Anonymous @ 3/08/2009 12:38 PM

Judge Killer is not accused of breaking the law, only an office policy. Your exaggerations are criminal!*





*Oh no, now I am doing it also ...

Anonymous said...

You killer-lovers need to buy your team some watches, copying machines, computers and printers that work.

What's next, dog ate my writ?

Anonymous said...

If you extend Bennett's tortured logic to himself, you have a criminal defense attorney obstructing justice in near every case they handle.

I don't know what is scarier: Bennett thinking he is a great legal mind or Bennett at the CIA.