Folks who consider themselves tough on crime love, love, love Dallas-born Judge Sharon Keller, who, in 1994, was elected as a Republican to the state's Court of Criminal Appeals. (The Greenhill School and SMU grad was actually the first woman elected to serve on the nine-member panel.) And folks who, say, oppose the death penalty ain't so fond of Keller -- especially after last month, when, among other things, she closed her office promptly at 5 p.m., refusing to even accept the last-minute appeal of a man with an IQ of 64 who'd been sentenced to death for the rape and murder of a Houston woman.
Actually, as ABC News pointed out on October 13, Keller's actions weren't welcomed by three other judges on the Court of Criminal Appeals either: "Judge Cheryl Johnson, who was expecting to rule on the case, told the Austin American-Statesman she was dismayed by Keller's decision. "And I was angry," she told the paper. "If I'm in charge of the execution, I ought to have known about those things … I mean this is a death." Over the weekend, author Joan Cheever wondered, is the former Dallas County District Attorney's Office prosecutor "dumb or just mean?"
This story isn't going away any time soon -- and it's gathering substantial national, and international, attention. Today, two weeks after nearly two dozen Texas attorneys filed a complaint against Keller with the State Commission on Judicial Conduct, the Associated Press offers up a story about "Killer Keller," for which the judge refused to grant an interview. (You can read an interview with Keller concerning an earlier controversial case on PBS' Web site.) But as the story points out, she likely has no problem with this ruckus: "Keller, 54, cultivates her reputation, distributing campaign literature showing a shadowy figure behind bars and the headline: 'He won't be voting for Judge Sharon Keller.'"
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to the Observer's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Dallas's stories with no paywalls.