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The Champion

December 2007 , Page 5 

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An Execution in Texas, A Judge on the Hot Seat

By Carmen D. Hernandez

Read more 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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