AUSTIN, Texas -- The path to the nation's busiest death chamber winds through a court of last resort where the presiding judge recently refused to keep her office open past 5 p.m. to accept a last-minute appeal from an inmate about to be executed.
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Here are some very troubling references to the presiding judge:
"Judge Sharon Keller's relentless tough-on-crime approach earned her the nickname "Killer Keller," and condemned prisoners in Texas know she is unlikely to spare them from a lethal injection.
Keller, 54, cultivates her reputation, distributing campaign literature showing a shadowy figure behind bars and the headline: "He won't be voting for Judge Sharon Keller."
Do we want judges who adhere to the process, but can also balance the need to consider constitutional issues that help to ensure the integrity of the process? I strongly believe that the answer is yes, perhaps except in Texas where this "hanging judge" resides.
Her bias is clear - not giving the defense team 20 minutes to file an appeal is totally out of bounds. The inability to file the appeal ostensibly tied the hands of the other appellate courts, thus leading to the execution at a time when the U.S. Supreme Court had already stayed two executions and later granted a third.
Is this the sort of justice system we truly want? But is is what we deserve until we deamnd a better system.