University of Houston Law Center professor David Dow today found that the witness stand had turned into the hot seat as he testified in the second day of Court of Criminal Appeals Presiding Judge Sharon Keller’s hearing on charges that she committed misconduct on Sept. 25, 2007, the day the state executed Michael Richard. Chip Babcock hammered away at Dow, the litigation director for Texas Defender Service, which had represented Richard in an unsuccessful effort to file a writ of prohibition and stay of execution in the CCA. Babcock, a partner in Jackson Walker in Dallas, cited news reports in which Dow was quoted as saying that the CCA couldn’t be bothered to stay open 20 or 30 minutes to receive Richard’s pleadings. As Babcock pointed out, testimony at the hearing in San Antonio indicated a TDS employee was not ready to leave the nonprofit organization’s Austin office to file the documents until 5:56 p.m. on Richard’s execution day. Dow testified that maybe he should have said the court would not wait for an hour. But he also added testily that the court “wouldn’t stay open one minute for us, Mr. Babcock. Isn’t that right?” Dow and Babcock also got into a tense exchange when they turned to the issue of the computer problems Dow argues TDS experienced on Richard’s execution day. Babcock has been contending that TDS did not have the computer problems Dow has claimed. Babcock said Dow had testified in his deposition that the TDS office administrator called Bayou City Connected when the computer problems occurred, but that was not TDS’ service provider at the time. Babcock said Dow’s attorney provided the name of another service provider, but that information was inaccurate. Babcock said he finally received invoices for the company that was TDS’ service provider 20 minutes before the hearing began today. Dow said he was mistaken about who the "IT person" was. “I would characterize it as a mistake rather than a lie,” he testified. But Babcock said that characterization is not up to Dow. Sharon Keller is scheduled to be the next witness on the stand.
-- Mary Alice Robbins