San Antonio, TX (January 20, 2010) – On September 25, 2007, the U.S. Supreme Court announced that it would hear a challenge to the constitutionality of lethal injection in Baze v. Rees, prompting death penalty lawyers all over the country to file for stays of execution pending the high court’s decision in that case. Advised by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals general counsel that the Texas Defender Service would be filing for a stay in the imminent execution of Michael Richard sometime after the court’s official closing time of 5:00 p.m., Chief Judge Sharon Keller ordered that the clerk’s office be closed at 5:00 and neglected to refer the case to any of the appeals judges in the courthouse, who could have issued an emergency stay. Mr. Richard was executed that evening. As a result, a number of persons and organizations, including the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, filed complaints against Judge Keller with the Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct, which appointed a Special Master to investigate the matter and make findings of fact.
In light of the Special Master’s findings of fact released today, the President of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Cynthia Hujar Orr of San Antonio, released the following statement:
We [the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers] are encouraged that the special master found that the chief judge of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals acted in a less than “exemplary” fashion, “exhibited poor judgment” and is unrepentant for her conduct in the Michael Richard death penalty case.
The findings of fact underscore Judge Sharon Keller’s lack of awareness of her responsibility to ensure that the Texas court system is fair and just, and is perceived to be fair and just. The special master was incredulous of her statement under oath that if she could do it all over again she would not change any of her actions. Her words and actions suggest a lack of good judgment in general and grave disrespect for the gravity and finality of the death penalty in particular.
We do, however, expect that the Commission on Judicial Conduct will exercise its independent judgment and come to its own conclusion on the facts of the case. The fact that Judge Keller still cannot see her errors, seeming to suggest that the rest of the Texas legal community is out of step, not she, is the strongest indication that she needs correction from her peers, who along with the high court, have also suffered disrepute and public suspicion from this most unfortunate affair.
Pattern Cross-Examination for DNA and Biological Evidence: A Trial Strategy Guide
NACDL’s Pattern Cross-Examination for DNA and Biological Evidence will assist criminal defense practitioners in scoring points when cross-examining forensic experts in cases involving DNA and biological evidence. This resource contains thousands of questions that will help defense lawyers cross-examine challenging witnesses without reinventing the wheel with each new case. It includes pattern questions that can be used to dominate prosecution DNA experts and level the playing field at trial.
Cross-Examination of the Analyst in Drug Prosecutions (2nd Ed.) By James M. Shellow
Now in its second edition with some new material, James M. Shellow’s book offers what its title promises: ways of thinking about cross-examining the forensic analysts in drug cases. But the book is so much more than that. It offers a look inside the mind of one of the finest cross-examiners and defense lawyers the United States has produced in the last seventy years. This small book can inspire and direct you in making big changes in the way you defend your clients and think about the entire project of trying any case.
Justice For All, Justice Now White T-Shirt (Women’s)
This custom, vintage-faded NACDL t-shirt is 50% polyester, 25% cotton, and 25% rayon weighing 5.2 oz. and is lightwieght, flexible and soft, providing maximum comfort. It features the "Justice For All, Justice Now" slogan and Lady Liberty image on the front, with the NACDL logo on the back. Currently available in both men's and women's sizes in both black and white colors. View the full line-up of colors and sizes on our online store, as well as our other popular and best-selling t-shirt designs at: nacdl.org/store.
Drug Cases Resource Materials Collection - CD-ROM
NACDL’s Drug Cases Resource Materials Collection is the sweeping culmination of every single article of written materials ever published from each installment of NACDL's annual "Defending Modern Drug Cases" seminar. Totaling over 12,000 pages, this vast collection includes 12+ years of motions, briefs, reports, outlines, transcripts, case citations, scholarly articles, powerpoints and other written commentaries. This collection provides trial strategies and tactics you can immediately apply to your current cases.
Mental Illness & the Law: Addressing and Litigating Behavioral Health Disorders in Criminal Cases
Whether it is insanity, impairment, a disorder, or adolescent brain development; mental health and intellectual competence issues affect pretrial supervision, trial and sentencing, and your chances of successfully advocating for your impaired client. This training provides ideas and proven solutions to assist you in advocating for your client during trial, whether it be insanity defenses, jury selection, cross of expert witnesses, persuasion, or mitigation at sentencing.
NACDL Communications Department
The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is the preeminent organization advancing the mission of the criminal defense bar to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime or wrongdoing. A professional bar association founded in 1958, NACDL's many thousands of direct members in 28 countries – and 90 state, provincial and local affiliate organizations totaling up to 40,000 attorneys – include private criminal defense lawyers, public defenders, military defense counsel, law professors and judges committed to preserving fairness and promoting a rational and humane criminal legal system.