Thursday, October 11, 2007

Did Judge Violate Executed Man’s Rights?

I read an article in the Houston Chronicle, Lawyers say judge violated executed man's rights, which asserts that Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Presiding Judge Sharon Keller is responsible for violating the constitutional rights of condemned murder Michael Richard when she cut short the appeals process.

“The complaint to the State Commission on Judicial Conduct says Keller improperly cut off appeals that preceded the execution of Michael Richard on Sept. 25, even though just hours earlier the U.S. Supreme Court had accepted two Kentucky cases on the constitutionality of chemicals used for lethal injection.”


“Judge Keller's actions denied Michael Richard two constitutional rights, access to the courts and due process, which led to his execution,” the complaint states. “Her actions also brought the integrity of the Texas judiciary and of her court into disrepute…”

I don’t think this has anything to do with constitutionality or anything to do with a possible violation of Michael Richard’s rights. It has to do with bad judgment on the part of Judge Keller who could have waited for Supreme Court’s ruling regarding the well publicized Kentucky cases. Texas law was carried out as prescribed and Michael Richards was executed within established existing parameters; which include opportunities for the Attorney General and the Governor to intercede. No violations of rights were involved unless we are forced to presuppose future rulings of courts yet to be convened take president over current reality; something which might work well in Sci-Fi stories but has little merit in a court of law.

The movement to abolish the death penalty and those involved firmly believe that any and all avenues used to accomplish that end are acceptable, to include bending the truth in order to persuade and paint a picture which includes false information. While I do not agree with Judge Keller’s timing, I could not fault her for following the law as it stands today.

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