death penalty news—–TEXAS

Feb. 17


Lawmaker seeks impeachment of appeals judge over 2007 execution

A Texas state lawmaker is trying to impeach one of the state's top
criminal appeals judges because she refused to keep the court open to
accept late filings from lawyers for a man who was executed that night in

The resolution filed Monday by Rep. Lon Burnam, a Fort Worth Democrat,
accuses Court of Criminal Appeals Judge Sharon Keller of "neglect of duty"
in the case of Michael Richard, who was executed for the rape and slaying
of a Houston-area woman.

Keller, a Republican who has served on the court since 1994, did not
return a telephone message left late Monday afternoon at her office. Most
state offices were closed for the Presidents Day holiday. Keller's home
phone number is unlisted.

Republicans hold majorities in the House and Senate. Burnam would not
predict whether he will be successful.

"It's one thing for a banker to close shop at 5 o'clock sharp," Burnam
said. "But a public official who stands between a human being and the
death chamber must be held to a higher standard."

Keller refused to allow the Court of Criminal Appeals to stay open past 5
p.m. on Sept. 25, 2007, even though Richard's attorneys had called and
asked for extra time to file their appeal because of computer problems. He
was put to death by injection hours later.

Earlier that day, the U.S. Supreme Court had agreed to review the
constitutionality of lethal injection in a Kentucky case.

(source: Associated Press)

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