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You have the right to an attorney, but it doesn’t have to be of your choosing

In her response to the charges pending against her before the State Commission on Judicial Conduct, Sharon Keller made the claim that the state should foot her legal bills. Rick Casey notes the problem with that claim.

[We do] provide attorneys for accused criminals.

True, we don’t hire lawyers for accused criminals who make $152,500 a year, as Judge Keller does.

And we provide lawyers only for indigents in danger of losing their freedom or their lives, not simply their jobs like Judge Keller.

And we don’t allow indigent defendants to choose their own free lawyers, particularly the highly regarded likes of Mr. [Chip] Babcock.

Keller wants the taxpayers to pick up the “usual and customary fees” of Babcock’s firm, despite the fact that, according to the filing prepared by Babcock, hiring him is to “risk a financially ruinous legal bill to defend against these charges which are without merit.”

The judge should know better, especially in these tough times, than to ask us taxpayers to agree to a lawyer whose usual and customary fees can lead to a ruinous legal bill. However, I personally would be willing to chip in for the kind of lawyers whom Keller has found acceptable for people whose lives were at stake.

You can picture what kind of lawyer that is (hint: the incompetent, indifferent, sleep-through-the-trial kind), but Casey provides a few examples in case your imagination is lacking.

Mark Bennett, who compliments Casey for his efforts, has his own critique of Keller’s defense.

She spends several paragraphs reiterating the facts of Michael Richard’s case (the “he had it coming” defense), explains that Richard was not seeking not to be executed, but rather not to be executed using the current protocol (the “only hastening the inevitable” defense) and points the finger at Court of Criminal Appeals counsel Edward Marty and Richard’s lawyers (the “some other dude did it” defense).

My second favorite part of the answer is where Judge Keller claims that “If applied to these charges [Article 5] Section I-a(6)A [of the Texas Constitution] is unconstitutional under the United States and Texas Constitutions.” So part of the Texas Constitution is itself unconstitutional under the Texas Constitution.

Maybe we should have provided her with an attorney after all. I’m sure there’s plenty more where this came from. And for the record, I said some of this stuff last month, after Clay Robison wrote about Keller’s request, just before she filed for an extension.

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  1. […] ethics complaint against her began at a time when her attorney was arguing that the state should pay for her legal fees in the matter of the judicial conduct complaint against her. A story in the DMN about all of her […]