On January 20, a special master appointed to review the conduct of an appeals court judge who would not order her court to stay open late to receive a death penalty appeal, concluded that her conduct did not merit removal from office. Special Master David Berchelmann of San Antonio found that the action of Judge Sharon Keller, Presiding Judge of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, “does not warrant removal from office or further reprimand beyond the public humiliation she has surely suffered.” Partly as a result of Judge Keller’s refusal to keep the court open beyond 5 pm, Michael Richard’s appeal was not filed and he was executed the same day. Richard’s attorneys had asked that the court stay open late to receive their appeal that had been delayed by computer problems. The appeal challenged Texas’ lethal injection process in light of an announcement by the U.S. Supreme Court that same day. All other inmates around the country were routinely granted stays of execution after that day while the Supreme Court considered the constitutionality of lethal injection. Judge Berchelmann’s findings will be sent to the judicial conduct commission to decide whether any further action is warranted.

(M. Robbins, “Special Master Finds CCA Presiding Judge Sharon Keller Should Not Be Punished,” Texas Lawyer, January 20, 2010.) See also Arbitrariness.