Sharon Keller’s Defense

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I was tempted to title this post “In Defense of Sharon Keller.”

I had planned to defend her remark on the stand at yesterday’s trial proceedings that, in retrospect, she wouldn’t have handled the Michael Richard case any differently. That remark, not surprisingly, is the big headline today.

I was going to defend it not because I think she handled the case well — she clearly didn’t — but because I felt she had to say that. Her defense is that she was simply performing the clerical duties of the court when she told the clerk’s office not to accept a last-minute appeal from Richard’s attorneys hours before his execution on Sept. 25, 2007. Keller contends that by closing the clerk’s office, she wasn’t making a judicial decision, that Richard’s attorneys still could have submitted their appeal through other means. If that’s her defense — that the blame rests not with her, but with Richard’s attorneys — then you can sort of understand why she would maintain she did nothing wrong and that, if she could do it over again, she would act the same way.

But after thinking about it for a few hours, I just can’t make that argument. When it comes to Judge Keller, even the Contrarian can’t muster much contrarianism.

Dave Mann has been with the Observer since 2003. Before that, he worked as a reporter in Fort Worth and Washington, D.C. He was born and raised in Philadelphia. He thinks border collies are the world’s greatest dogs, and believes in the nourishing powers of pickup basketball.