Criminal Justice

Impeachment Sought of Presiding Texas Criminal Appeals Judge

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In a controversial decision in 2007, the presiding judge of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals refused to delay the court’s scheduled closing by 20 minutes so that a last-minute emergency appeal could be filed in a death-penalty case hours before an inmate’s execution.

Now a state lawmaker is calling for the impeachment of Judge Sharon Keller, saying that the legislature needs to step in because the State Commission on Judicial Conduct hasn’t acted on complaints over Keller’s controversial decision to close the courthouse door to the appeal by lawyers for Michael Richard, reports the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

“It’s one thing for a banker to close shop at 5 o’clock sharp. But a public official who stands between a human being and the death chamber must be held to a higher standard,” says State Rep. Lon Burnam (D-Fort Worth), who introduced an impeachment resolution yesterday, in a written statement.

The newspaper couldn’t reach Keller on Monday, which was a court holiday.

Burnam acknowledges that his bill is unlikely to pass, in a state known for having a high number of executions, according to Agence France-Presse.

Related coverage: “Storm Brews Over TX Judge Who Refused Late Capital Appeal” “Texas Judge Halts Planned 6 PM Execution, Appeals Court Overrules, Clock Ticks”

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