The San Antonio Express-News has provided a video containing snippets from the closing arguments in the trial of Sharon Keller, Chief Justice of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals (the highest criminal court in that state). It bears viewing, and it’s only 2:24 minutes long.
Listening to it, you’ll hear an attorney’s deep voice talking about the death penalty and how capital punishment depends upon a public trust that there will not be a erroneous death sentence.
As you’ll recall (we’ve posted the details of Justice Keller’s trial here and the short video gives a synopsis as well), Justice Keller is being challenged for denying the attorneys for Death Row inmate Michael Richard the ability to file a motion to stay execution on the day he was scheduled to die – they were running late, and Justice Keller admits to telling her clerk to respond that “the clerk’s office closes at 5.” The motion to stay execution didn’t get filed on time, and Mr. Richard was executed by lethal injection at 6 pm that day.
Mind you, that same morning — the very same morning — the US Supreme Court had granted writ in a Kentucky case which put lethal injection as a method of execution under scrutiny. Keller’s supporters point out that six months later, the Supreme Court decided that this method was not “cruel and unusual” and accordingly, Richard would have been executed anyway.
Here’s the question that I’m not seeing: what if the US Supreme Court has RULED THE OTHER WAY in the Kentucky case? Then, would we have a very clear example of the erroneous execution that is referenced in the closing arguments of Justice Keller’s trial?