20 August 2009

Sharon Keller On Actual Innocence

Sharon Keller is the chief judge of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, the state's highest court in criminal and habeas corpus cases. She is currently on trial before the state's judicial conduct body for violating rules of judicial ethics by closing the court's door to a death row inmate facing execution that night in violation of informal court rules.

She shares the view of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia that new evidence that someone was innocent of criminal charges of which they were convicted is legally irrelevant.

In 1998, Judge Keller wrote the opinion rejecting a new trial for Roy Criner, a mentally retarded man convicted of rape and murder, even though DNA tests after his trial showed that it was not his semen in the victim. “We can’t give new trials to everyone who establishes, after conviction, that they might be innocent,” she later told the television news program “Frontline.” “We would have no finality in the criminal justice system, and finality is important.”

From here, quoting The Times.

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