It was revealed Tuesday that the decision was made by Presiding Judge Sharon Keller without consulting any of the court's eight other judges or later informing them about the decision — including Judge Cheryl Johnson, who was assigned to handle any late motions in Richard's case.
Johnson, who learned about the request to stay open past 5 p.m. in an Austin American-Statesman story, said her first reaction to the news was "utter dismay."
"And I was angry," she said. "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."
Johnson said she would have accepted the brief for consideration by the court. "Sure," she said. "I mean, this is a death case."
Judge Cathy Cochran said the Richard case raised troubling questions.
"First off, was justice done in the Richard case? And secondly, will the public perceive that justice was done and agree that justice was done?" Cochran said. "Our courts should be open to always redress a true wrong, and as speedily as possible. That's what courts exist for."
At least three judges were working late in the courthouse that evening, and others were available by phone if needed, court personnel said.
None of the judges was informed of Richard's request by Keller or by the court's general counsel, Edward Marty, who had consulted with Keller on the request.
Keller defended her actions, saying she was relating the court's longstanding practice to close on time.
"I got a phone call shortly before 5 and was told that the defendant had asked us to stay open. I asked why, and no reason was given," Keller said. "And I know that that is not what other people have said, but that's the truth. They did not tell us they had computer failure.
"And given the late request, and with no reason given, I just said, 'We close at 5.' I didn't really think of it as a decision as much as a statement," Keller said.
Keilen, whose organization also handled Richard's appeal, said court clerks were informed about the computer problems.
The clerk's office, asked whether Keller was told of the malfunction, referred questions to Judge Tom Price, who is in charge of court personnel. Price did not respond, and calls to other judges were not returned Tuesday.
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
Judge Sharon killer must resign!
According to Austin American-Statesman, Texas Court of Criminal Appeals' Judge Sharon Keller made the decision to close the court at 5 Pm on the day of Michael Richard's execution, without telling the other judges about it. It is time for Judge Sharon Killer to step down from her position as the Presiding Judge of Texas court of Criminal Appeals.