Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Deep in the Heart of Texas

Texas takes the term "death penalty state" literally:

For the first time in the modern history of the death penalty, more than 60 percent of all American executions took place in Texas.

That's one way of putting yourself on the map. Another way is to make a mockery of judicial procedure:

The last execution before the Supreme Court imposed a de facto moratorium happened in Texas, and in emblematic fashion. The presiding judge on the state’s highest court for criminal matters, Judge Sharon Keller, closed the courthouse at its regular time of 5 p.m. and turned back an attempt to file appeal papers a few minutes later, according to a complaint in a wrongful-death suit filed in federal court last month.

The inmate, Michael Richard, was executed that evening.

Judge Keller, in a motion to dismiss the case filed this month, acknowledged that she alone had the authority to keep the court’s clerk’s office open but said that Mr. Richard’s lawyers could have tried to file their papers directly with another judge on the court.

Wouldn't want a life or death decision to get in the way of that evening's entertainment, I guess.

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