Legal Ethics

Judge Targeted for Refusing After-Hours Lethal Injection Appeal

Twenty lawyers have filed an ethics complaint against the presiding judge of Texas’ top criminal court contending she should have kept the court open past 5 p.m. to accept an emergency appeal on behalf of a death-row inmate scheduled to die later that day.

The complaint against Presiding Judge Sharon Keller of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals says she refused a request to keep the courthouse open an extra 20 minutes, according to a press release by the Texas Civil Rights Project.

Lawyers for Michael Richard sought to halt his Sept. 25 execution after learning the U.S. Supreme Court had accepted a case challenging lethal injection in Kentucky, which uses the same chemical cocktail as Texas, the Houston Chronicle reports.

Richard was executed that night, according to the Austin American-Statesman. In the days that followed, the U.S. Supreme Court stayed a different Texas execution, and Keller’s court halted another.

Keller did not respond to the Chronicle’s request for comment. But it quoted her as saying last week, “You’re asking me whether something different would have happened if we had stayed open, and I think the question ought to be why didn’t they file something on time? They had all day.”

A hat tip to How Appealing, which posted the articles.

We welcome your comments, but please adhere to our comment policy and the ABA Code of Conduct.

Commenting is not available in this channel entry.