Friday, September 15, 2006

My answers to a candidate questionnaire

Q: Name:

A: Sharon Killer

Q: Candidate for:

A: Presiding Judge, Court of Criminal Appeals

Q: District (if applicable):

A: Statewide

Q: Street address:

A: P.O. Box 29914

Q: City:

A: Austin

Q: State:

A: Texas

Q: Length of residency in Dallas County:

A: Permanent resident since birth, currently residing in Austin.

Q: Occupation/main source of income:

A: Presiding Judge, Court of Criminal Appeals

Q: Current civic involvement/accomplishment highlights:

A: Executive Board, Capitol Area Council of Boy Scouts of America. Executive Board, S.M.U./Dedman School of Law. Chairman, Task Force on Indigent Defense. Participant in development of a school curriculum about court system. Member, Settlement Home for Children.

Q: Previous civic involvement/accomplishment highlights:

A: 2003 Distinguished Alumni Award for Judicial Service from S.M.U. Dedman School of Law.

Q: Education:

A: S.M.U. School of Law, J.D. 1978. Rice University, B.A. 1975.

Q: Date of birth:

A: August 1, 1953

Q: Previous public offices sought/held:

A: Judge, Court of Criminal Appeals 1995-2001

Q: How much funding have you raised for your campaign?

A: Approximately $1700.00

Q: Who are your top three contributors?

A: Thomas R. Phillips. William G. (Bud) Arnot, III. W.C. (Bud) Kirkendall.

Q: Phone number:

A: (512) 695-9414

Q: Fax number:

A: n/a

Q: E-mail address:


Q: Campaign Web site:

A: and

Q: Which sitting judge do you hold up as a role model, and why?

A: Clarence Thomas, because of the manner in which he addresses constitutional issues.

Q: What role, if any, does mercy have in justice?

A: Mercy is an appropriate consideration for a jury or a sentencing judge. It plays no role in my decisions.

Q: Define and describe your view of a judge's appropriate temperament.

A: A judge should be patient, dignified, courteous and have a sense of humor.

Q: When should a judge overrule a jury's decision?

A: According to our case law, an appellate judge should overrule a jury's decision when it is irrational. Voters should vote out of office a judge who is irrational. An example of an irrational judge would be one who refuses to grant a new trial in a case in which DNA has proven a person's innocence .

Q: As a lawyer or judge, what types of cases have you typically handled?

A: Criminal appeals of punks, thugs & killers, every once in a while I get a case concerning a politician, like Tom Delay, wait, I am repeating myself.

Q: As a judge (if applicable), have any complaints been filed against you to the Judicial Conduct Committee? If so, please explain the dispositions.

A: Yes. Two complaints have been filed and both were dismissed. I do not recall whether there were findings on the first complaint, but it was dismissed promptly. The second was dismissed upon a finding that I had not violated the Code of Judicial Conduct. I have also filed my own complaints against

Q: As a lawyer, have any complaints been filed against you with the Grievance Committee? If so, please explain the dispositions (unfounded, private reprimand, public reprimand, suspension, disbarment)?

A: No complaints filed, but I expect one soon concerning my handling of the Susan Reed incident, because some people think I acted improperly for not recusing myself from ruling on whether my friend Susan should have been allowed to continue to lead the investigation of the Ruben Cantu case.

Q: Have you ever been arrested? If so, explain.

A: Never arrested in real life.

Q: Is there a problem with legal services provided to indigent defendants in Texas? If so, how would you seek to address it?

A: The indigent defense system in Texas could be improved. Blah blah... As chairman of the state organization charged with improving indigent defense I have been instrumental in creating the grant program that assists counties in paying for indigent defense, and in creating the system for reporting county standards and defense plans. Blah blah... I have participated in funding mental health programs in the Public Defender Office in Dallas and in other counties, in funding the creation of P.D. offices (including the first regional P.D. office in Texas), and in many other projects and studies to promote best practices and pilot projects for the improvement of indigent defense. blah blah blah...

Q: The Supreme Court oath that lawyers take requires them to say they will avoid the appearance of impropriety. In light of that, should judges accept campaign contributions from lawyers who have appeared, or may appear, before them in court?

A: In Texas, it is normal practice for judges to accept campaign contributions from lawyers who appear before them. I have accepted money from prosecutors who are my friends such as Jack Skeen and David Dobbs. Jack Skeen is the current DA in the office that prosecuted Napoleon Beazley, who was one of the last juvenile offenders I was able to get executed. I have also received money from the Bexar County Republican Women PAC. Susan Reed, the Bexar County DA, has given money to the Bexar County Republican Women PAC. I ruled in Susan Reed's favor. I do not believe that the practice necessarily creates an appearance of impropriety. Judges should, however, be careful to avoid the appearance of favoring contributors. I think I am pretty good at covering things up.

Q: Federal courts have overturned a number of high-profile Texas death penalty cases. Why is this, and what should be done about it?

A: Yeah, the U.S. Supreme Court has overruled me a bunch of times. I have also been overruled a lot by lower federal courts. I do my best to make sure people are executed, but sometimes I am overruled. Oh well. If the Supreme Court was elected like me, I would probably not be overruled so much. I am happy that I was able to juice up so many juvenile offenders, before the Supreme Court starting taking orders from the French and said I couldn't do that anymore. Merde!

Q: Do you favor a system of appointed judges with regular retention elections?

A: I do not favor appointment of judges. If it weren't for elections of judges, there would not be so many executions in Texas.

Q: Do you favor any changes to the Open Meetings and Public Records laws? Please be specific.

A: The Open Meetings and Public Record laws are already fairly expansive, so my answer is "no". I was in favor of the adoption of the rule of judicial administration that is the judiciary's counterpart to the open meetings laws.

Q: What prompted you to run for this office?

A: I want to serve my state, and this job offers me the ability to do so extensively. I also like playing God. When someone is executed, I often put on that old song, "The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia" and do a little dance in my office.

Q: Describe an example of how you've led a team or group toward achieving a particular goal.

A: I have led the other members of the Court of Criminal Appeals several times to vote against granting new trials to people who claim they are innocent. For instance, I voted to execute Kerry Max Cook, Ernest Willis, Anthony Graves and Cameron Todd Willingham. Some federal court overruled me on the first three, but Willingham is dead and you can thank me. Of course, I led the Court to deny a new trial for Roy Criner, but Governor Bush granted him clemency and let him go. That was the case where there was DNA evidence that exonerated Criner, but I don't care too much about science. I never got good grades in science classes. I just don't get that stuff. I may not understand a lot about science, but I understand promiscuity. Criner's victim was promiscuous, so we don't know who she had sex with, plus Criner could have used a condom, although that never came up at the trial level, but I convinced the rest of the CCA members to believe the possibility that Criner used a condom and to deny him a new trial. Do you know how hard it is to convince an appellate court to base a decision on facts that were not presented at the trial? I am a born leader.

Q: What political leaders do you admire, and why?

A: Ronald Reagan is my favorite political leader because he accomplished so many good things for our country.


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