Defense Lawyers Ask State's Top Court to Accept E-mailed Appeals

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AUSTIN (AP) - About 300 defense attorneys are asking the state's highest criminal court to accept all death penalty filings by e-mail.

The petition today to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals in Austin is from attorneys who'd like the court to change its rules.

The Associated Press reports the Texas court is one of the few in the nation that doesn't accept the filings electronically.

Calls to the court weren't immediately returned.

Presiding Judge Sharon Keller on September 25th refused to keep her office open past 5 p.m. to accept a last-minute appeal from an inmate about to be executed.

Michael Richard was put to death several hours later over the 1986 rape and murder of Marguerite Lucille Dixon of Hockley.

Jim Harrington with the Texas Civil Rights Project says Richard's life likely would have been extended if the court accepted electronic filings.