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Blog Scan

The Judge Should Not Be Punished:  R.J. MacReady posts on Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Blog, that Judge Sharon Keller, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Judge maligned for failing to keep the CCA clerk's office open past 5pm on the night of Michael Richard's execution, will not be punished for her actions.  In February 2009, the judicial conduct commission initiated formal proceedings against Keller, stemming from allegations that she made a decision to close the clerk's office, thereby effectively closing the court to Richard's defense attorneys' last minute petition for writ of prohibition and for stay of execution.  Today San Antonio Judge David Berchelmann found Judge Keller's conduct "did not cause the TDS to be late in its filings, to forget the other available avenues, or to fail to have any of its experienced lawyers contact the TCCA."  He wrote that "[h]er conduct... does not warrant removal from office, or even further reprimand beyond the public humiliation she has surely suffered."  Ashby Jones also covers the Judge's findings at Wall Street Journal's Law Blog. 

Sex Offender Laws Make the News:  Both Sex Crimes and Sentencing Law and Policy have posts today discussing the Wall Street Journal's coverage of laws (punishing federal child pornography) and cases (U. S. v. Comstock) affecting child sex offenders.  At Sentencing Law and Policy, Berman posts a link to Amir Efrati's article reporting on U. S. Sentencing Commission data that shows federal judges are showing leniency toward individuals who view child pornography but who aren't themselves molesters.  Efrati writes that even though the Justice Department has made child pornography and other child-exploitation prosecutions a top priority, for the months between October 2008 and September 2009, federal judges gave below guideline sentences in 44% of the cases in which individuals obtained child pornography or shared it with others.  At SexCrimes, Corey Rayburn Yung posts a link to a Wall Street Journal editorial discussing the implications of the Court's eventual decision in Comstock.  The editorial staff worries that if the Court embraces the Obama Administration's argument it "would be to grant the federal government broad power in the criminal context."  It worries the Court could "sanction the notion that nearly any appealing idea may be justified as necessary and proper."

Three Decisions in One Day:
  At Blog of Legal Times, Tony Mauro reports on the three "noteworthy" opinions issued by the Supreme Court today. He writes that "[i]n Kucana v. Holder, the Court strongly affirmed the role of federal courts in reviewing  removal or deportation orders in immigration cases"; "Wood v. Allen...upheld a death sentence in Alabama for defendant Holly Wood against a challenge based on ineffective assistance of counsel"; and with the water dispute case "South Carolina v. North Carolina...the Court said entities that are not states can, in some circumstances, intervene as parties."  According to Mauro, Chief Justice Roberts dissented in South Carolina, raising concerns that original jurisdiction jurisprudence could be altered in a "fundamental way" by allowing private entities to join the litigation as parties rather than as friends of the court.  Jonathan H. Adler has this quick post on the decisions at Volokh Conspiracy, and Doug Berman gives his initial impression of Wood v. Allen at Sentencing Law and Policy.

Press Coverage of Judicial Vacancies:
  At How Appealing, Howard Bashman compiles recent coverage of the growing need to fill federal judicial vacancies. 


From the AP article:

According to the judge, "Keller should have been more helpful to Richard's attorneys about how they could have filed an appeal."

Since when is it a judge's duty to advise lawyers how to file appeals? Death really IS different.

It amazes (and angers) me that in almost all the commentary I've read about this case, the anger has been directed at Judge Keller, not at the lawyers.

I think this decision was right, except that, like federalist, I really don't approve of the repeated statements that Judge Keller should've told the lawyer how to proceed. A lawyer should know how to do his job, and a judge shouldn't give legal advice.

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