Thursday, August 20, 2009

Evidence Presented at Trial Supports Removal of Sharon Keller from CCA

Students Against the Death Penalty which joined Texas Moratorium Network in filing a judicial complaint against Sharon Keller in November 2007, has monitored the trial of Sharon Keller and finds the evidence presented at trial supports the severest sanctions against Keller - her removal from office for violating the Execution-Day Procedures of her court and for casting discredit on the Texas judiciary.

"Keller’s testimony on the witness stand that in hindsight she would do nothing differently on Sept 25, 2007 if she had it to do over again, has further damaged the integrity of the Texas judiciary. The most effective way to restore integrity to Texas’ highest criminal court is for Sharon Keller to be removed from office. She has seen that the consequences of her saying “we close at 5” were that Michael Richard was unable to file an appeal with the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, even though his lawyers called the court again shortly before 6 PM and were told not to bother to bring the appeal to the court because no one was there to accept it”, said Scott Cobb, president of Texas Moratorium Network.

“Cheryl Johnson, the duty judge assigned to receive all communications regarding the case of Michael Richard on Sept 25, 2007, testified at the trial that she was not informed about the request by Richard’s lawyers to file a late appeal. She testified that she would have accepted the appeal. Sharon Keller was obligated by the rules of her own court to direct all communications regarding Richard to Judge Johnson.”” Said Cobb

“Sharon Keller could have avoided being charged with misconduct and incompetence, if she had responded to Ed Marty when he called her at 4:45 pm on Sept 25 by saying, “tell them the clerk’s office closes at 5, but they can submit an appeal after 5 by directly contacting any judge on the court who is willing to accept the appeal. Let them know that Judge Johnson is the assigned duty judge on the Richard case and inform Judge Johnson of their request to file an appeal”, said Cobb.

Excerpt from the judicial complaint filed by TMN: "It is clear from her actions that Judge Keller can no longer be expected to preside over death penalty cases with the requisite fair, bias-free and even-handed disposition so critical to such serious life and death matters.”

A PDF of the judicial complaint filed by TMN in November 2007 is here:

A video of a copy of the judicial complaint being delivered for Sharon Keller to the clerk of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals in November 2007 is on YouTube at The video contains a statement by the sister of Michael Richard outside the CCA. The video also contains footage of the clerk’s office remaining open 3-4 minutes after 5PM to receive the copy of the complaint.

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