Sunday, August 19, 2012

Brainy endorsements: Keith Hampton

Keith Hampton is the Democrat running for Presiding Judge of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. His opponent is the most reprehensible Republican serving in the entire judicial system in Texas, Sharon "Killer" Keller. There is no Libertarian or Green on the November ballot. In Hampton's own words, here is one sentence about the incumbent.

(Keller) is the judge who shut the courthouse doors promptly at 5PM to a death-sentenced inmate, and agreed that poor people aren’t entitled to lawyers who remain awake during trial

Keller tried to get Hampton removed from the ballot by challenging his petition signatures, but that effort failed. Hampton has outraised Keller over 60 to 1 in the most recent fundraising period. When Hampton ran for the CCA in 2010, he received broad bipartisan support, and that is once again the case in 2012. We have previously seen what happens when Republicans publicly reject Republican judges who betray the public trust.

Here's Scott Henson at Grits for Breakfast, outlining the pitch-perfect strategy Hampton must pursue if he is to win.

Judge Keller, the self-styled, "pro-prosecution" judge, has so much baggage coming in it'd be hard to know where to attack first. The findings of facts against her by the Commission on Judicial Conduct were damning and provide ample fodder for campaign attacks. (Her punishment was overturned as illegal but the findings of fact on the merits remained untouched in a circus-like tragi-comedy that embarrassed the court and the state.) Keller was also fined by the Ethics Commission $100,000 for failing to disclose a vast web of financial entanglements. (See the ruling [pdf].)

Even more than those dark moments, though, many of her opinions and dissents contain jaw-dropping pro-government assumptions that could be mined for anti-populist material that would make any good Tea-Party type cringe. Just as Governor Perry's greatest political achievement has been to maximize power over state agencies through appointments of political allies, creating a (relatively) strong executive where Texas historically had a weak one, Judge Keller's principal achievement as the CCA's Presiding Judge has been to oversee (and arguably principally author) an expansionist accumulation of government power by law enforcement and prosecutors over nearly two decades. A comprehensive vetting of her opinions by a campaign researcher would yield lots of attack fodder. But (Hampton) must undertake that work, then use the information to construct and deliver political attacks: That's the piece that I'm not sure is going to happen, though there's still time.

Most recently, the state of Texas executed a man whose IQ of 61 defined him as retarded. Though the United States Supreme Court has ruled that mentally incapacitated people are not to be executed, Sharon Keller -- and Antonin Scalia -- made sure he was put to death anyway.

Keith Hampton is the only sane option for Democrats, Greens, Libertarians, and Republicans. Period, end of story.

Hampton has a Facebook page, and here's his Twitter feed. Do what you can: volunteer, donate, advocate. We can't begin to change much in Texas until we rid our government of fiends like Sharon Keller.

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