TX Judge Closes Courthouse, Prevents Death Appeal
Hours after the Supreme Court granted cert on the issue of whether Kentucky's lethal injection procedures constituted cruel and unusual punishment, Judge Sharon Keller in Texas, without consulting the other judges, closed the criminal courts at 5:00 pm.
As a result, Michael Richard's attorneys were unable to file for a stay of execution. Richard was executed that night.
Cheryl Johnson, the Judge assigned to handle any late minute motions in Richard's case is angry.
"If I'm in charge of the execution, I ought to have known about those things, and I ought to have been asked whether I was willing to stay late and accept those filings."
Johnson said her first reaction was "utter dismay." Johnson said she would have accepted the brief for consideration by the court. "Sure," she said. "I mean, this is a death case."
There were judges in the courthouse at the time Keller closed it.
Three judges were working late in the courthouse that evening, and others were available by phone if needed, court personnel said.
|< Amnesty Int'l Chronicles U.S. Execution Horrors | Sen. Larry Craig: Court Denies Plea Withdrawal >|