Judge plans to testify at death-row appeal trial (AP)

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Old Aug 18th, 2009, 05:21 AM   #1
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Default Judge plans to testify at death-row appeal trial (AP)

AP - A Texas judge who closed her court before a death row inmate could file an appeal plans to testify at the ethics trial where she faces charges that could end her career.

Judge Sharon Keller, the presiding judge of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, is on trial herself nearly two years after refusing to keep the court open past 5 p.m. on Sept. 25, 2007, with Michael Wayne Richard's execution imminent and his lawyers scrambling to file an appeal.

Charged with five counts of judicial misconduct, Keller sat quietly at the defense table Monday, only standing to acknowledge that she planned to testify. She could take the stand as early as Tuesday.

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Old Aug 18th, 2009, 11:45 AM   #2
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Default Re: Judge plans to testify at death-row appeal trial (AP)

State investigators opened the special hearing by accusing Keller of "willfully" circumventing protocol by ordering the court closed at the normal hour. Her attorney said Keller was simply referring to the time the building closed, and that another judge inside also may have known about the pending appeal.

In the nation's busiest death-penalty state, where Keller has been mocked by critics as "Sharon Killer" for her tough-on-crime reputation, the day began with capital punishment opponents in the gallery and Richard's family members arriving toward the end.

"When the government has a death penalty, it is essential that there be not the perception but the reality that it is administered error-free," said Mike McKetta, the lead lawyer for the state Commission on Judicial Conduct.
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