[Guest post by DRJ]
Judge Keller was charged with misconduct by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct as a result of this incident and her trial has been ongoing this week. Keller testified today she wouldn’t do anything different if she could do it over again and blamed the conduct of the defense counsel:
“The potentially career-ending charges accuse Keller of incompetence in office, bringing discredit to the judiciary and failure to protect Richard’s right to have a valid grievance heard in court when she denied a request from the inmate’s lawyers to file briefs after 5 p.m. on Sept. 25, 2007.
Richard was executed that night.
Keller, one of nine judges on the Court of Criminal Appeals, denied every charge and turned criticism back onto Richard’s lawyers.
“I think it’s a legitimate question to ask why his lawyers had from 9:30 in the morning until 8:20 at night and did nothing,” she said.”
The biggest surprise of the trial is testimony from former general counsel Ed Marty:
“Monday’s surprise revelation came in opening statements when prosecution and defense lawyers discussed the pretrial deposition of Ed Marty, who was the court’s general counsel when Richard was executed on Sept. 25, 2007.
Marty had called Keller at home about 4:45 p.m. that day to say Richard’s lawyers were asking for more time to file briefs. Keller refused.
Marty’s questioning has been eagerly anticipated for what it would reveal about that conversation. But when he was deposed Aug. 6 — later than other witnesses in the case because he now lives in Alabama — Marty testified that he also discussed the lawyers’ request for additional time with one other judge, [Cheryl] Johnson, before 5 p.m.
The revelation is potentially significant, indicating that Keller did not act alone to deny the request and that court rules had been followed.
But Johnson contradicted Marty’s recollection, testifying that he came to her office shortly before 5 p.m. “and told me nothing had come in,” she said, adding that he never mentioned a phone call from Richard’s lawyers.”
The Austin American-Statesman has several articles on Judge Keller’s trial in its archives. The trial was expected to end today with closing arguments to follow. Rather than issuing a verdict, I believe the trial judge will make recommendations to the State Commission on Judicial Conduct.