Monday, August 17, 2009


Unless you've already been born. Then death is too good for you; The Guardian has the story.

A senior judge in Texas who refused to hear a last-minute appeal from a prisoner facing execution on the grounds that "we close at 5" was herself put on trial today in one of the most high-profile cases of alleged judicial misconduct in the state's history.

The case relates to her handling of the imminent execution of a convicted rapist and murderer Michael Richard on 25 September 2007. That morning the US supreme court had agreed to rule on whether lethal injection - the form of death administered by Texas - amounted to cruel and unusual punishment.

Lawyers for Richard raced to file an appeal that would put a stay on his execution, that was due to happen that evening. But they encountered computer glitches, and were delayed.

They contacted Keller, who by then had gone home to deal with a worker doing repairs to her house. When at 4.45 pm they requested a postponement of the execution, her reply was: "We close at 5".

At 8.23pm that evening Richard was put to death.

I guess she was worried she might miss her shows; you know that in her mind "Survivor" takes precedence over survival... unless we're talking about a fetus.

This is not the first time Keller has been accused of misconduct, but it is the first time it's been prosecuted. There are a few Texas bloggers I read, and I know that all Texans are not this callous. But when someone is facing execution in three and a half hours, what sort of human being (and I'm sure she considers herself "Christian" as well) responds this flippantly? What the hell has happened to Republicans?

And why is it I'm seeing this news first, yet again, in a European news source?

You know, it just occurred to me, as I was proofreading and editing this post, the reasoning behind all the right to life fury. It's much easier to pretend that you care about some little hidden ball of cells in some anonymous woman's womb than it is to actually care for living beings with all the strengths, weaknesses, beauty and ugliness that we each bear. So they can be righteous in the abstract and put down anyone that makes them nervous with no apparent cognitive dissonance.


Mule Breath said...

Mainstream media hasn't covered this to any great degree, but it has been covered in a variety of legal rags. Try searching the archives of Texas Lawyer. They had a piece back in 2007 when this first came to light, and another recently that was likely the source for the Guardian story.

You caught me in the middle of writing my own blog post on this story. While I'll admit it doesn't look good for Justice Keller (and her staff), and I'll preface my comment by stating I am not necessarily against the death penalty (neither am I necessarily against abortion), I'll have to ask that we take a deep breath before getting too embroiled in this. There is a lot of convoluted testimony floating around, and one of the possibilities is that Richard's lawyers screwed up; ultimately leading to the accelerated execution. The hearing will tell the tale.

In the end there is little doubt in the minds of those who have followed this case from inception that Richard was guilty. If one has no objection to the death penalty for deserving criminals, the real then argument deals with timing. The stay, had Keller granted it, would have allowed only a brief respite. Grounds for stay offered by the defense dealt with a case before Tennessee courts arguing methods of applying the death penalty. While that case was active several condemned prisoners across the country received stays, but once decided all of those received new dates with death. Had Keller ruled to stay the execution, Richard would likely have been one of those and would have met the executioner only a few months later. I'm sorry if that sounds morbid, but it is the truth.

Still, as I said in my opening, it doesn't look good for Keller, and I can agree that a blatantly callous judge needs to be set out on the curb.

Randal Graves said...

Nuke the death penalty, and wankery such as this, potential or otherwise, can be avoided.