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An Execution in Texas, A Judge on the Hot Seat
By Carmen D. Hernandez
President's Column columns.
In the afternoon on Sept. 25, the clerk’s office of the highest criminal
appeals court in Texas closed for the day at its usual time. That much
is not in dispute.
But Sept. 25 was not a usual day for death penalty and post-conviction
lawyers in Texas and throughout the Death Belt. That morning, the U.S.
Supreme Court granted certiorari in Baze v. Rees, No. 07-5439.1 It was also the day that Texas inmate Michael Richard was scheduled to die by lethal injection.
Richard’s lawyers immediately decided to write a new appeal to the Texas
Court of Criminal Appeals raising an Eighth Amendment claim since
Texas’ lethal injection protocol is identical to the one the Supreme
Court had agreed to scrutinize. But the problem of printing out the
requisite 10 copies of their 100-page brief caused a series of computer
crashes at the Texas Defender Service office Houston. Richard’s lawyers
called the clerk’s office in Austin three times to beg the court to stay
open. The chief
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