Last week, over in Houston, a state district court judge (read that, trial judge) who’s still pretty new to the job, ruled that the death penalty was unconstitutional. This got lots and lots and LOTS of media coverage.
This week, Judge Kevin Fine changed his mind. He’s rescinded that ruling and he’s set the matter for an evidentiary hearing next month. No typo there, not next WEEK but next MONTH.
Evidence on a law issue? Right. Whether or not the death penalty is constitutional isn’t really a legal conundrum in this country. Whether or not a particular individual should be punished by death is a fact battle. Aggravating factors, mitigating circumstances.
Let’s take a moment. Right now, the Texas Judicial System has the following stories in the national spotlight:
The Chief Justice of the highest criminal court in Texas, Sharon Keller, carries the label “Killer Keller” and her removal from office is still a possibility; and
The New York Times is having a field day with its recent coverage of the Texas judge (and former Court of Criminal Appeals justice) who had a long-term love affair with the prosecutor — and the U.S. Supreme Court possibly hearing the case brought to it by the defendant setting on Texas Death Row after getting tried and convicted (and sentenced) in this Courtroom of Love.
Maybe it’s not the best time for a state trial judge to be doing this sort of thing, especially when the media’s already having such fun with all his tattoos. Really.