death penalty news—-TEXAS

April 23


Hearing on Keller Impeachment set for April 27th

The Texas House Committee on Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence announced
today that it would hear public testimony regarding the impeachment of
Chief Justice Sharon Keller of the Court of Criminal Appeals on April

The impeachment resolution was introduced by Rep. Lon Burnam (D – Fort

"It is important that the committee be made aware of the public's desire
for impeachment," Mr. Burnam said. "I encourage anyone who wishes to see
justice done in this matter to come to room E2.010 in the capitol on
Monday afternoon and register 'for' House Resolution 480."

The impeachment resolution stems from Judge Keller's alleged violation of
the Court's practice of remaining open on scheduled execution nights. On
September 25, 2007, the judge instructed court staff to refuse appeal
filings from lawyers for death row inmate, Michael Richard.

Richard's appeal was based on announcements made by the United States
Supreme Court the morning of they scheduled execution. Although Richard
was executed that night, the Court of Criminal Appeals (over which Judge
Keller presides) later granted 2 stays of execution based on the same
arguments Richard's lawyers attempted to present.

If passed, HR 480 calls on the House of Representatives to form a
committee to investigate Judge Keller for "gross neglect of duty and
willing disregard for human life." If the House finds cause for
impeachment, a trial would then be held in the State Senate.

The State Ethics Commission is also currently investigating Judge Keller;
a hearing has been scheduled for August 16th to investigate the judge's
actions in the Richard Case. In addition, the Ethics Commission is
investigating Judge Keller's omission of 20 million dollars in Dallas area
real estate holdings from mandatory disclosure forms filed with the

(source: Press Release, Lon Burnam, Texas House of Representatives)