Commenting on Sharon Keller’s whining about being denied the right to counsel because she has to choose between representing herself and paying Chip Babcock’s full fare, the Chronicle’s Rick Casey writes:
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. Lawyers like:
• Robert McGlohon, who was appointed by Keller’s court to represent a death row inmate shortly after the Texas Legislature in 1995 passed a law requiring for the first time that indigent condemned men and women be provided tax-paid attorneys for the automatic habeas corpus appeal.
McGlohon had been a lawyer less than three years, had never even assisted on a death penalty case, and was suffering serious health problems. The appeal he filed was so inadequate that it didn’t raise any issues that are required in habeas filings. McGlohon, apparently aware of his failings, didn’t even file a bill on the case.
When later lawyers filed a competent habeas appeal, Keller joined in the majority in ruling it improper because a defendant got only one shot at the target.
In a dissent, then-Judge Morris Overstreet called the decision “a farce and travesty,” and a federal judge called it “a cynical and reprehensible attempt to expedite petitioner’s execution at the expense of all semblance of fairness and integrity.”
Casey has two other suggestions as well. I wrote about Keller’s whinge here; it’s always a pleasure, though, to see what a real pro can do with the same material.