Thursday, December 20, 2007

Rivaling Putin Deep in the Heart of Texas

Naming its people of the year brings out a perverse consideration in other press organs than just Time magazine. In Dallas Morning News choices, number 6 choice is our most famous judge, Sharon Keller of "we close at 5" fame. That is the judge who ended a man's life rather than wait for a computer glitch to be cleared.

Murderous and ruthless, these are qualities like those of Putin, Time's Man of the Year 2007. Whatever floats your boat, I suppose is the standard for the choice.

Texas jumps off the national map in many ways, good and not so good. Not so good includes the international notoriety of a hyperactive death chamber.

Before the U.S. Supreme Court effectively halted capital punishment in September, Texas carried out seven of the 10 most recent executions nationwide.

That very last execution brings us a finalist for Dallas Morning News Texan of the Year, Presiding Judge Sharon Keller of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. The newspaper's distinction is bestowed for better or worse; this one goes in the latter column.

Judge Keller will forever be associated with four callous words that make a caricature of Texas justice: "We close at 5."

That was the judge's harsh response to defense attorneys who were trying to file a last-minute appeal in the case of convicted killer Michael Richard.

Maybe Strontium-210 will be proposed for the new method of choice in the Texas death chambers if Judge Keller gets her nomination.

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