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Keller Cleared

Morgan Smith reports in the Texas Tribune, "A specially appointed court of review vacated the State Commission on Judicial Conduct's sanction of Sharon Keller today, saying the state board acted unconstitutionally in reprimanding the presiding judge of the Court of Criminal Appeals."  Ashby has this post in the WSJ Law Blog. Peggy Fikac has this story in the Houston Chronicle.

The flap had to do with a misunderstanding regarding an after-hours filing for a stay of execution after the Supreme Court took up the lethal injection issue in a Kentucky case, Baze v. Rees.  Little noticed in the flap is that telling capital defense lawyers there is no remedy in Texas state courts is like throwing B'rer Rabbit in the briar patch.  It lets them go directly to where they really want to be -- federal court.  In the Richards case, the defendant's attorneys were able to go the U.S. Supreme Court with their stay request earlier than they otherwise would have.  The high court denied the stay, and Richards was executed.


Quick! Put Scott Cobb on suicide watch!

This whole thing was such a made up issue. Basically, as far as I can tell, Keller got in trouble for simply advising the attorneys (who clearly botched the appeal mechanics--nice job David Dow) that, pursuant to state law, the clerk's office would close on time. It was not up to her to advise Dow how to file an after hours appeal. In fact, had she done so, she would have been abandoning the neutrality required of the judiciary. The victim's family would have been rightfully outraged had Judge Keller given Dow an ad hoc tutorial on how to get his appeal done.

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