You are on page 1of 11

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT SOUTHERN DIVISION OF TEXAS HOUSTON DIVTSION

t

MARSHA RICHARI),
. Plaintiff,

X
X CIVI ACTION NO.:

V.X
HONORABLE SHARON KELLER, Individually, and in an official capacity, and JOHN DOES, individually, and in an official capacity. X X

X
Defendants. PLAINTIFF'S ORIGINAL COMPLAINT TO THE HONORABLEJTJDGE THIS COTJRT: OF
NOW COMES Plaintiff Marsha Richard and complains of Honorable Sharon Keller, individually, arrd in an individual capacity and iolm Does, individuaily, and in their officiai capacitiesand will show the Court the following: STATEMENT OF THE CASE l. Texas Court of Criminal Appeals JudgeSharonKeller without any authority to do

so, or, in the alternative, in her administrative function, prevented a death penalty appeal (the Appeal) to be filed with the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, thereby, causing the death of plaintiff s husband,Michael Richard, by lethal injection on September25,2007. JURISDICTION AND VENUE 2. This Court has jurisdiction over Plaintiffs federal claims, under 23 U.S.C. $$

1331 ffid, 2201, 42 U.S.C. $$ 1983, 1985 and 1988, and supplemental jurisdiction, under 28 U.S.C. $ 1367(a), hearPlaintiffs statelaw claims. to
:
PLAINTIFF' S ORIGINAL CO}TPLAINT Page I

3.

Venueis properin this Court,under28 u.S,C. $ 1391(b), because incidentat the

issuetook place in Huntsville, Walker County, Texas,within the United StatesSouthernDistrict of Texas PARTIES 4. 5. Plaintiff is a residentof Harris County. Texas. DefendantSharonKeller is a residentof Travis County, Texas,and a Judgeon the

Texas Court of Criminal Appeals and can be servedwith processat the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals,Supreme Court Building,20l West 14th Street,Austin, Texas78701. 6. DefendantJohn Does are those stateactors,who by action or inaction, along with

DefendantKeller causedthe Appeal not to be filed. FACTS NOT EXECUTING CONVICTED MURDERERS IS A "H(JMA]V RIGHTS VIOLATIOI{" 7. Defendant Keller was first elected to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals (the

CCA) in 1994.' DefendantKeller was electedpresidingjudge of the CCA in 2000 and re-elected to that position in 2006. During her 1994 campaigrrDefendantKeller criticized the CCA as too lenient and openly supportedthe death penalty. While campaigning Defendant Keller called the failure to impose capital punishment on convicted murderers "a human rights violation."2 Since Defendant Keller assumedthe CCA bench THREE HUNDRED TWENTY-ONE (321) people have been executed in Texas and over FOUR HLTNDRED (400) have received a sentenceof death. Judge Keller has reviewed hundreds of, if not more than a thousand, appeals in death penalty casesmaking her intimately familiar with proceduresand the law, including all the laws

t The Texas Court of Criminal Appeal is the highest state court having jurisdiction over criminal cases. 2 Houston Chronicle. February l, ZOO|,quoting an earlier election editorial. PLAINTIFF'S ORIGINAL COMPLAINT
Page 2

containedin the instantpleading. 8. Plaintiff Marsha Richard is the wife3 of deceasedMichael Richard who was

executedby the Stateof Texas, the evening of September25.,2007,by lethal injection--the 25th such execution by the State of Texas for the year.4 Richard's execution occlrred in Huntsville, Texas in Walker County in the [Jnited StatesSouthernDistrict of Texas. g. The morning of Septemb 25, 2007 er ,the SupremeCourt of the United States(the

Supreme Court) granted writ of certiorari to answer the question of whether or not the current method of lethal injection execution is Cruel and Unusual Punishment and, therefore, constitutionally prohibited by the 8thAmendment to the Constitution.s 10. On September25,20A7, Judge Keller orderedthe clerk of the CCA not to accept

any paperwork concerningMichael Richard after 5:00 pm. Prior to 5:00 pm and throughoutthe day attorneys for Michael Richard were working feverishly to finish and file the necessary paperwork (the Appeal) to stay the execution basedon the samoissuesthat the SupremeCourt of the united Stateshad granted writ of certiorari in the Baze case. 11. Prior to 5:00 pm Michael Richard's attorneysmade it clear to Judge Keller, the

clerk of the CCA, and others that the appeal paperwork was forthcoming but that, due to circumstances beyond their control, the paperwork would be filed a few minutes past 5:00 pm. Because of the actions of Judge Keller and other unknown govemment employeesand officials

'Plaintiffand Michael Richard were m:uried November 2,2A02. o In2007 Texas has executed25 while all 36 other death penalty statescombined have execute 16. twhile the case before the Supreme Court, Ralph Baze, et al., v. John D. Rees, al., is from Kentucky , all37 states, et including Texas, that perform lethal injections use the samethree-drug lethal injection method. The three drugs consist of an anesthetic-sodium thiopental, a muscle paralyzer--pancuroniumbromide, and a substanceto stop the heart--potassiumchloride. Besides Eight Amendment considerationsappellants in Baze also raise the question of whether substantivedue processrequires halting an execution if a stay is granted during the lethal injection process.

PLAINTIFF'S ORIGINAL COMPLAINT

Page 3

(the John Does) the Appeal was not acceptedby the CCA6 and Michael Richard was executed. At leastthree other CCA judges were waiting after5:00 pm for the Appeal so that they could rule on it not knowing that DefendantKeller had stoppedthe filing of the Appeal. Previously other deathpenalty appealshad beenconsideredafter 5:00 pm by the CCA. 12. Every scheduledexecution in the United Statesafter Michael Richard's has been

stayed becauseof the writ of certiorari granted by the Supreme Court of the United States including all scheduledexecutionsin Texas. 13. No law or rule gave Defendant Keller the authority to close the court to prevent

the Appeal. Moreover, at least three CCA judges waited after 5:00 pm for an appealto be filed as was the custom and procedureand which had occurred on occasionsprior to September25, 2007.

I.
14.

PROCEDURALDUE PROCESS

Proceduraldue process' function is to provide "an opportunity to be heard...ata

meaningful time and a meaningful place," promoting fairness in dispute resolution. Fuentes v. Shevin,407 U.S. 67 (1972). The 5th and l4th Amendments require that deprivations of life, liberty, or property activates due process guarantees. Liberfy interests are "those privileges long recognized as essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men". Meyer v. State of Nebraskq,262 U.S. 390 (1923). 15. Defendant Kellers' act of stopping the filing of the Appeal denied Michael

Richard an opportunityto be heard at a meaningfi.rl time and a meaningfulplace. Michael Richardhad a disputeconcerninglethal injection and due to Defendant Keller's acts was not

o In order for the SupremeCourt to consider the Michael's appeal the Appeal must, by law, have first been ionsidered by the CCA. PLAINTIFF'S ORIGINAL COMPLAINT Page4

allowed to resolvethe issue. II. 16. DEFBNDANT KELLER'S ACrS WERE Urrft,4 I4ft,ES

DefendantKeller can'point to no law, authority,,statuteor any colorable basis for

stopping the filing the Appeal subjectingDefendantKeller to individual liability for deathof Mr. Richard. llth Amendment immunity does not prevent an action in federal court againsta state official for ultra vires actions beyond the scope of statutory authority, or pursuant to authority deemedto be unconstitutional. Pennhursf,supra"465 U.S. at 101-102,n. ll; Schamv. District Courts,967 F. Supp 230,232-233 (S.D.Tex. 1997). Ultra vires actionsare those "without any authority whatever;" claim restson the officer's lack of delegatedpower. Pennhursf,supra,,465 U.S. at 101-102.n. 11. The test has been statedas whetherthere was anv "colorable basisfor the exercise of authority by state officials." A claim of error in the exercise of that power is insufficicnt. III. 17. DEFENDAFIT KELLBR FAILS TO HAVE OUALIFIBD IMIVIUNITI Alternatively to her acts being ultra vires, if Defendant Keller has administrative

authority to stop the appeal,then an analysis of her qualified immunity is in order, however, such analysis can only lead to a denial of qualified immunity. Qualified immuniry is designed to shield government officials from actions "insofar as their conduct does not violate clearly established statutory or constitutional .ights of which a reasonableperson would have known.'o Harlow v. Fitzgerald,4sT U.S. 800 (1982). 18. Here Judge Keller has participated in hundredsof death penalty appealsand knew

the consequenceof her actions would be the death of Michael Richard without a due process review of his issue regarding lethal injection and a violation of Michael Richard's right to an open court under the Texas Constitution.
PLAINTIFF' S ORIGINAL COMPLAINT

:
Page 5

IV.

DEFENDANT KELLER VIOLATBD THB "OPBN COURTS'PROVISION OF
THE TEXAS CONSTITUTION

19.

The TexasConstitution; Article 1, section13 providesthat: Excessivebait shall not be required, nor excessive Jines imposed, nor cruel or unusualpunishmentinflicted. All courts shall be open, and every person for an injury done him, in his lands, goods, person or reputation,shall hsve remedyby due courseof lnv.

20.

Defendant Keller's act of closing the court with an execution looming could not

more clearly violate this provision. V. 21. ARSITRARY AND CAPRICIOUS

A ruling is arbitrary and capricious in the absenceof a rational connection

betweenthe facts found and the choice made.Natural Resources. U.S., 966 F.2d 1292,97, (gth v. Cir. 1992). Dcfcndant Kcllm's decision to close the court to Michael Richard's appeal had no rational basis. VI. 22. VIOLATION OF FOURTH AMENDMENT

The Fourth Amendment guarantees everyone the right "to be secure in their

persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonablesearchesand seizures." LI.S. Const. amend.IV. 23. Defendants violated Michael Richard's Fourth Amendment rights when they

unlawfully executedhim--seizinghis person--withoutconsideringhis appeal. yII. 24. WRONGFUL DBATH AttD SURVML ACTION

A person is liable for damages for wrongfi.rl death arising from an injury that

causes an individual death if the i"jq.y was caused by the person(s) or agent(s) or servant(s) wrongful act, neglect, carelessness, ullskillfulness or default." Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code
PLAINTIFF' S ORIGINAL COMPLAINT Page 6

Ann. $71.002(b). Plaintiff Marsha Richard as the wife of Michael Richard is a statutory beneficiaryunder the Texas wrongful deathstatute. 25. Plaintiff Marsha Richard also contemplatesa survival action under the Teaxs

Survival Statuteand as the wife she is the naturalchoice as administratorof the estate. A probate action creatingthe Estateof Michel Richard with Marsha Richard as administratorwill be filed in the appropriateprobate court as time allows. Defendantsthrough their action and inaction caused plaintiff the loss of his protection, care, assistance,society, companionship,comfort, guidance,counseland advice, and funeral and burial expenses. 26. Plaintiff Marsha Richard as the representative the Estateof David Brian Scott, of

deceased, seeksto recover damagesto compensate consciouspain and suffering, economic the lossesand damages the awareness impending death,all of which were sufferedby Michael for of Richard before his untimely, painful and unnecessary death.

42USCSBgTrpN1983
27. A 42 USC Section 1983 claim requiresthat a state actor violate an individual's

right. While 42 USC Section 1983 is not a sourceof substantiverights it allows rights found elsewhere to be addressed in federal (and state) court. Michael Richard had a Fourteenth

Amendment right to due process both procedural and substantial yet these rights and the other rights--wrongfi.rl death, survivor action, open courts, fourth amendment--described herein were met with deliberateindifferenceby DefendantKeller and the John Does. 28. The deliberate indifference and the i"jr.y must have a causal connection.

Thompson (Ipihur County, Texas,245F.3d 447,457 (sthCir. 2001). [D]eliberateindifference v. has three compooents:(l) subjective knowledge of a risk of seriousharm; (2) disregardof that risk; (3) bV conduct that is more than mere negligence. Farrow v. West,320 F.3d 1235, 1245
PLAINTIFF' S ORIGINAL COIVTPLAINT Page 7

(1lth Cir. 2003). The evil intent of deliberateindifference can be inferred from the acts of state Keller knew that death actor. Hope v. pelzer,536 U.S. 730 QA\D. In the caseat bar Defendant was coming for Michael Richard without the legal intervention of his appellate attorneys and that risk by closing the courthousedeliberatelydisregarded Zg. As Judge Keller claims to be a policymaker in the area of acceptingor rejecting

under 42 USC Section 1983 appealsthe Stateis liable for injunctive relief and damages COT]NT.-42 U.S.C. SECTION 1985 30. In order to statea claim under 42 U.S.C. $ 1985(3),a plaintiffmust allege:(1) a

deprive, conspiracy; (Z) motivated by a racial or class baseddiscriminatory animus designedto (3) an act directly or indirectly, any person or class of personsto the equal protection of the laws; of any in furtherance of the conspiracy, and (a) an injury to person or property or the deprivation 403 right or privilege of a citizen of the United States.Id. at 828-29; Grffin v- Breckenridge, U-S- 263, U.S. at 102-03403U.S. 8S (l 971); Bray v. Alexandria Women'sHealth Clinic, 506 Richard of 26S(lgg3). Defendant Keller and the John Does acted in concert to deprive Michael arbitrary and his rights to due process, life and liberty, his day in court, and to be free from capricious acts and unlawful seizureof his person' 3l . Texas Defendants all acted in callous and total disregard of the United Statesand

actions were Constitution, and violated well-established law and precedent. Defendants' and done in bad faithobjectively unreasonable RATIFICATION 32. the Despite the solid evidence of Defendant Keller having improperly caused

such the State of Texas death of Michael Richard Judge Keller is still serving on the bench. As and procedure' has ratified the conduct of Defendant Keller as its own policy, practice, c.ustom
PLAINTIFF' S ORIGINAL COTVTPLAINT Page 8

v. Grandstalf City of Borger,767F.2d l6l (5th Cir, 1985), {J.S.916 (1987). cert.denied,480 MENTAL ANGUISH And INTENTIONAL INFLICTION OF BMOTIONAL DISTRESS
t

33.

The tort of intentional infliction of emotional distresshas four elements:(1) the

defendantmust act intentionally or recklessly;(2) the defbndant'sconduct must be extreme and outrageous;and (3) the conduct must be the cause(a) of severeemotional distress. Defendants acted willfully and recklessly, and their conduct was extreme and outrageous. Plaintiff has suffered at least depression,fear, anxiety, loss of sleep, and remorse as a result of defendant's acts.

ASSAULT AI\D BATTBRY
34. Defendantsknowing causedthe assaultand battered,ffid causedbodily injury to,

Plaintiff, intentionally, knowingly, and recklesslywhen Michael Richard was executedby lethal injection. DECLARATORY 35. RELIEF

Plaintiff seeksdeclaratoryrelief againstDefendants,delineating his rights under,

and Defendants'violations of, the United Statesand Texas Constitutions. PUNITIVE DAMAGES 36. Plaintiff is entitled to punitive damagesagainst all individual (natural persons)

defendants in their individual capacities due to malice, gross negligence and purposeful acts in violation of the federal and staterights describedherein.

INJIJNCTIVE RELIEF
37. Marsha Richard requests injunctive relief in the fonn of an order directed to

Defendant Keller, the clerk of the CCA, and the CC4 that emergency death penalty appeals whether in electronic or paper form not be stoppedfrom being filed.
PLAINTIFF'S ORIGINAL COMPLAINT
Page 9

ATTORNEYS'FEES 38. Marsh Richard is entitled to recover attorneys' fees and costs to enforce his
a

Constitutionalrights and under42 U.S.C. Section1983and 1985fiom Defendants. PRA).ER FOR RBLTBT WHEREFORE, Plaintiff MarshaRichard requests that the Court: A. Enter declaratoryjudgment, specifying Plaintiff s US Constitutional Rights and

TexasConstitution'sBill of Rights; B. Find that Plaintiff Marsha Richard is the prevailing party in this case and award

attorneys' fees and costs,pursuantto federal law, as noted; C. Award damagesto Marsha Richard against Defendants,separatelyand jointly; for

the violations of Michael Richard's rights under the United StatesConstitution and his rights under the Texas constitutionand tort law as noted above; D. Award punitive darnagesagainsteach individual Defendantto Marsha Richard for

violations of Michael Richard rightr his rights and under Texas law, as noted above; E. Enter injunctive relief against Defendants,preventing them from again unlawfully

interfering with the due process appeal rights of the condemned under the United States and Texas Constitutions: and. F. Grant such other and fruther relief as appea$ reasonable and just, to which,

MarshaRichard showsherself entitled.

PLAINTIFF'S ORIGINAL COMPLAINT

Page l0

RESPECTFULLY SUBMIMED. LAW OFFICE RAND OF

ALL L. KALLINEN -operating attorney for the American Rights Association, a Texas non-profit civil rights and liberties organization United States Dist. of TexasBarNo.: 19417 Southern Admitted, United StatesFifth Circuit Court of Appeals StateBar of TexasNo.: 0A790995 1406CastleCourt"Houston.Texas77006 Telephone: 713ts28-8s86 Cellular: 713t320-3785 FAX: 7131528-8586 com E-mail: AttorneyKallinen@aol.

PLAINTIFF' S ORIGINAL COMPLAINT

Pagell