SHARON KELLER. NEXT ROUND; SPECIAL COURT OF APPEAL APPOINTED TO HEAR HER APPEAL; NATURE OF HEARING NOT YET KNOWN; TEXAS LAWYER;
"Babcock says the timing of the special court’s hearing in the Keller case depends on whether the panel will conduct the review de novo or in an appellate proceeding.
“I assume at some point somebody will tell us which,” he says. John J. “Mike” McKetta, a shareholder in Austin’s Graves Dougherty Hearon & Moody, serves as the commission’s special prosecutor in the Keller case."
BACKGROUND: Justice Sharon Keller has attained notoriety for allegations that she allowed convicted murderer and rapist Michael Richard to be executed on September 25, 2007 - notwithstanding his attempt to file a stay of execution - because the court clerk's office closes at 5. Keller is of particular interest blog because of the opinion she wrote for the majority in the Roy Criner case. Wikipedia informs us that: "Sharon Faye Keller (born in Dallas, Texas, 1953) is the Presiding Judge of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, which is the highest court for all criminal matters in the State of Texas. Because of her position, she has been involved in many high-profile and controversial cases, and has thus received widespread news coverage......In 1998, Keller she wrote the majority opinion in a 5-3 (one judge abstaining) decision that denied a new trial to Roy Criner. Criner had been convicted of sexual assault in 1990, but newly-available DNA testing had shown that the semen found in the victim was not his......Judge Tom Price, who ran for the Chief Judge seat, in a primary election, said that Keller's Criner opinion had made the court a "national laughingstock." Judge Mansfield, who had sided with the majority in denying Criner a hearing, told the Chicago Tribune that, after watching the Frontline documentary, reviewing briefs and considering the case at some length, he voted "the wrong way" and would change his vote if he could. "Judges, like anyone else, can make mistakes ... I hope I get a chance to fix it." He stated that he hoped Criner's lawyers filed a new appeal as he felt Criner deserved a get a new trial......Following the (appeal court's) refusal to order a new trial, the cigarette butt found at the scene (and not adduced at trial) was subjected to DNA testing.The DNA on the cigarette was not a match for Criner, but it was a match for the semen found in Ogg. Ogg's DNA was also found on the cigarette, indicating that she shared a cigarette with the person who had sex with her (and who presumably killed her). These results convinced the district attorney, local sheriff and the trial judge that Criner was not guilty. The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles recommended he be pardoned and, citing "credible new evidence [that] raises substantial doubt about [Criner's] guilt," then-Governor George W. Bush pardoned him in 2000.
The thorough, unabridged Wikipedia article on Keller can be found at:
"Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson has appointed three court of appeals justices to hear Court of Criminal Appeals Presiding Judge Sharon Keller’s appeal of the public warning issued to her by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct,"the Texas Lawyer story by reporter Mary Alice Robbins published on August 18, 2010 begins, under the heading, ""Chief justice appoints special court of review to hear CCA Presiding Judge Sharon Keller’s appeal of public warning." "Fort Worth’s 2nd Court of Appeals Chief Justice Terrie Livingston will preside over the special court of review, which also will include 1st Court of Appeals Justice Elsa Alcala of Houston and 9th Court of Appeals Justice Charles Kreger of Beaumont, according to Jefferson’s Aug. 18 letter to those three justices," the story continues. "Jefferson notes in the letter that, pursuant to Texas Government Code §33.034, he selected the justices’ names by lot and assigned them to hear Inquiry Concerning Judge No. 96.
Charles “Chip” Babcock, Keller’s attorney, a Jackson Walker partner in Dallas and Houston, says of the appointees, “They’re all fine judges.”
Babcock says the timing of the special court’s hearing in the Keller case depends on whether the panel will conduct the review de novo or in an appellate proceeding.
“I assume at some point somebody will tell us which,” he says. John J. “Mike” McKetta, a shareholder in Austin’s Graves Dougherty Hearon & Moody, serves as the commission’s special prosecutor in the Keller case.
McKetta refers questions about the case to Seana Willing, the commission’s executive director and examiner.
Willing did not immediately return a telephone call seeking comment. The commission publicly warned Keller for her conduct in the case of convicted murderer Michael Richard.
The commission found that Keller’s conduct on Sept. 25, 2007, the day the state executed Richard, did not accord him the right to be heard according to law.
Keller twice said, “No,” when asked whether the CCA clerk’s office would remain open past 5 p.m. that day. Richard’s lawyers did not file a stay of execution and a writ of prohibition in the CCA before the clerk’s office closed."
PUBLISHER'S NOTE: The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic" section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be accessed at:
My interest in forensic pathology began with my Toronto Star investigative reporting into once famed since disgraced former doctor Charles Smith. I began this Blog after retiring from the Star in 2006 in order to follow the aftermath into the independent Goudge inquiry into many of Smith's cases. I have now begun to focus on cases involving flawed forensic science no matter where they occur (the recent Amanda Knox prosecution in Italy, for example) and am fascinated by the interest in the Blog from people in countries throughout the world. In another development, my interest in "junk science" "pseudo-experts" and the miscarriages of justice they all too often cause has drawn me deeply into the on-going U.S. death penalty debate where so many troubling cases involve issues relating to DNA and other developments in the world of forensic science. For all of this I rely on my experience as a reporter at the Toronto Star, my work as a lawyer in Ontario's criminal courts, and my abhorrence of injustice. Please send cases and developments which may be of interest to this Blog to email@example.com. Read on! Harold Levy.