CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Wife of Execute Man Who Was Denied Appeal Files Federal Lawsuit

From The wife of executed killer Michael Richard filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday accusing Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Presiding Judge Sharon Keller of causing the inmate's Sept. 25 lethal injection.

Marsha Richard of Houston claims Keller had no authority to prevent what would have been a successful appeal to stay her husband's execution.

The lawsuit says Keller violated Michael Richard's due process rights when she ordered the court clerk's office to close promptly at 5 p.m. on Sept. 25 before his lawyers could file an appeal. Houston attorney David Dow had asked for more time after having computer problems.

The suit names Keller in her individual and official capacity, as well as other unnamed defendants in their individual and official capacities.

Through her secretary, Keller said she had no comment. The judge has served on the Court of Criminal Appeals since 1994.

Marsha Richard seeks a federal order that bars Keller, the Court of Criminal Appeals and its clerk from stopping emergency death penalty appeals from being filed in either paper or electronic form. She also seeks unspecified financial damages, attorneys' fees and court costs.

"He was on death row, so chances are he was going to be executed. But to have your appeal denied for no rhyme or reason? That's wrong," Marsha Richard, 43, said during a news conference outside the Houston federal courthouse Wednesday. The home health aide married Michael Richard in 2002. "No matter what side of the death penalty you fall on, we're still dealing with human beings. Their lives are in the balance."

This week, the state criminal appeals court said it would accept emergency e-mail filings in death penalty cases in order to avoid a repeat of Michael Richard's nationally controversial execution.

Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

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