Dallas Judge Removed After Ruling Executions Illegal

DALLAS (AP) – A North Texas judge has been removed from presiding over a death penalty case after ruling that the state law allowing the penalty is unconstitutional.

An administrative judge sided with Dallas County prosecutors that state District Judge Teresa Hawthorne should be removed from the Roderick Harris capital murder case. Administrative Judge John Ovard ruled that Hawthorne should be removed because of personal beliefs she had expressed about the death penalty.

The Dallas Morning News reports Hawthorne ruled last month that the Texas death penalty law is unconstitutional because it allows prosecutors to seek the penalty arbitrarily.

Harris is accused of fatally shooting Alfredo and Carlos Gallardo during a robbery at a southeast Dallas mobile home in March 2009, then getting into a shootout with police.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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  • texas heartland

    Get rid of this judge. If she doesnt want to follow the laws in the state of Texas then she needs to be removed.

    • YRofTexas

      Agreed. What she is doing is not only against Texas law, but it is VERY VERY Dangerous! Stepping over the boundaries of her occupation and practice of law is why we are having so many problems with Judges today. They are MAKING laws, rather than ADHERING to them.
      Her law degree needs to be suspended until determined she is fit to practice.
      And NO MORE Judgeships!

      • fredpat

        The Judge simply stated fact. And, she is an American and can believe anything she wants.
        As it stands, any prosecutor in Texas can arbitrarily threaten a suspect with death if they don’t confess, and withhold evidence, and get away with it. A confession is counted as another conviction stat to favor the prosecutor and enables the prosecutor to remain employed. As other recent stories reveal, it is obvious this reality leads to violations of U.S. Constituional protection for all of us.
        Seems our Founding Fathers didn’t want to do things King George’s way, and we don’t need to do things with an 1870s wild west mentality of hang-em all.
        This Judge needs to be reinstated. She is truely Honorable for
        taking such an unpopular stand. She only revealed obvious tragic
        shortcommings in the Texas legal system which need to be fixed.

    • fredpat

      Any one from our little god prosecutorial comminity can press charges against you on a whim. They have the unfallible power to do so, per Texas law. They can determine your crime is ‘capital’ and recommend the death penalty. Unless you have lots of money, you will not get justice. A few years later, you could find yourself on a death bed with needles in your arm and wishing Texas adhered to the US Constitution.

      • lecripps

        That may or may not be true, but the situation here is not the Judge’s right to decide. It must be done by constitutional law and determined by the senate and the house…NOT by the judge. When taking the oath/office of a judge, it is clear that she/he will have to make decisions based upon the law that they personally disagree with. That is why we have different branches of government.

  • fredpat

    This is an outrage! State District Judge Teresa Hawthorne is probably the most unbiased and fare in Texas. Those publican lock em all up, are the biased ones. Killing someone is not supposed to be arbitrary. The US Constitution is designed to protect us little people from the personal angry wrath of those expensive little god prosecutors.

  • Bob

    I think you are missing the point. Judges are recused for many reasons. In this case she recently presided over a case questioning the constitutionality of the Texas death penalty. Her involvement with that case could influence her ruling in this case. In fairness she really should have recused herself.

    Suppose a judge owns stock in a company. Someone files suit against that company. The judge should recuse them-self because of potential conflict of interest.

    It does not mean the judge has or would do something inappropriate. The appearance of a conflict could raise doubt.

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