Friday, January 04, 2008

Court of Criminal Appeals Workload Declining under Judge Sharon Keller

As Susan Strawn and J.R. Molina prepare for their runs at the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, it's worth trotting out one of the most serious beefs against the CCA under Presiding Judge Sharon Keller's dominion: CCA judges just don't work as hard as they used to.

Since 2000, the number of cases accepted by the CCA for discretionary review - i.e., the cases they choose to review as opposed to those they're required to hear by law - declined by 27% overall. Here are the raw stats from the Office of Court Administration (xls file):
Discretionary Cases Accepted Annually by
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals

2000 2,271
2001 2,036
2002 1,951
2003 1,927
2004 1,816
2005 1,771
2006 1,842
2007 1,661

By contrast, total court filings increased (pdf) over the same period, with increased criminal court filings leading the way. Bottom line: Not only does the CCA need better judges who are more willing to buck against the iron-fisted direction of Presiding Judge Sharon Keller, it just needs judges willing to work harder and hear more cases as overall caseloads grow.

A 27% reduction in discretionary reviews amounts to a lot of folks and a lot of issues denied appellate review - does anybody really think the number of judicial errors declined by that much over the last few years? I sure don't. I can't say for sure what is the cause of the decline in discretionary reviews at the CCA, but it needs to be reversed.


Anonymous said...

Looks like that article I read in the L. A. Times was right.

The Texas CCA doesn't do squat!

It is an embarassment to the State.

Anonymous said...

Scott, while you're looking you should look at the number of cases decided by finding no error preserved for review and only harmless error. Also, look at the number of State Prosecuting Attorney's PDRs that are granted in comparison to the defendants' PDRs and as well, the number of reversals for the State in comparison to the number of reversals for defendants. It seems errors are almost impossible to preserve for review and almost nothing is harmful. Likewise, defendants have very little access to the court in comparison to the State and correspondingly, the defendants seem rarely able to get a reversal but the State seems almost perfect in doing so. Is it Keller, the republican court, incompetent attorneys, a growing disenchantment with justice for all, or something else? Appreciated the article.

Anonymous said...

The entire CCA needs to be removed and new Judges on board. There should be term limits for these positions just like there are for Presidents. There are so many Judges who are just entrenched in this court, they see nothing and read nothing. How many people are denied the right to appeal by this court? Many, just get the monthly outcomes sent to your email address and you will be shocked by the number of rubber stamped denials. When in actuality, the USSC says everyone is entitled to an appeal, yet the CCA denies most people the right to appeal. Why is this?