Marsha Richard, the widow of the latest man to be executed in Texas, has withdrawn her lawsuit against Judge Sharon Keller so she can refile it in Austin federal court, her lawyer said Saturday.
Richard’s original lawsuit, filed last week in Houston, accused Keller of exceeding her authority as presiding judge of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, the state’s highest criminal court, when she refused to accept a death penalty appeal after the court’s 5 p.m. closing time.
Richard’s lawyer, Randall Kallinen of Houston, said he is moving the lawsuit because most potential trial witnesses live in Austin.
“I also want the jury to be able to walk into the Court of Criminal Appeals and see where that phone call came in,” Kallinen said. He said the change also allowed him to beef up portions of the suit dealing with judicial immunity, the lawsuit’s highest hurdle. Judges are immune from lawsuits dealing with their judicial actions, but can under limited conditions be sued over administrative decisions.
Kallinen said he withdrew the lawsuit Thursday and mailed the new version to the Austin federal court, where he anticipates it will be filed Tuesday.
Texas Moratorium Network (TMN) is a non-profit organization with the primary goal of mobilizing statewide support for a moratorium on executions in Texas. Significant death penalty reform in Texas, including a moratorium on executions, is a viable goal if the public is educated on the death penalty system and is encouraged to contact their elected representatives to urge passage of moratorium legislation.
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