TX appeals court stops Wednesday hearing to void Rodney Reed death warrant

Rodney Reed

FILE – In this Oct. 13, 2017, file photo, death row inmate Rodney Reed waves to his family in the Bastrop County District Court in Bastrop, Texas. Supporters for Reed, who’s facing lethal injection in less than two weeks for a murder he says he didn’t commit, are mounting a final push in the courts and on social media to stop his execution, which is being called into question by lawmakers, pastors, celebrities and the European Union. (Ricardo B. Brazziell/Austin American-Statesman via AP, File)

UPDATED: 3:10 P.M.

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals handed down an order just past Noon Tuesday giving Rodney Reed’s attorney and three judges involved in the case the opportunity to issue written responses to motions Reed’s legal team filed.

The Reed motions claimed Judge Doug Shaver, the judge who signed Reed’s execution order, was not properly appointed to preside over the case. Reed’s side then asked the elected judge, Carson Campbell, of the 21st District Court in Bastrop to hear their arguments on the motions regarding Shaver’s appointment.

In a court hearing that was set for tomorrow in Bastrop County, Reed’s side wanted Campbell to void Shaver’s execution order, thereby delaying Reed’s Nov. 20 execution.

The Bastrop County District Attorney and the Texas Attorney General’s Office asked the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals to stop Wednesday’s hearing, arguing that Judge Campbell does not have the legal authority to rule on any of the actions Judge Shaver took in the Reed case. The state argued Shaver was legally appointed and has been since taking over the case in 2014.

The Court of Criminal Appeals has given Judge Shaver and Judge Campbell until 4 p.m. on Nov. 13 to issue written responses in the case. The appeals court order states Judge Olen Underwood–who appointed Shaver to the Reed case in 2014– and Reed’s attorneys also “may file responses” by the 4 p.m. Wednesday deadline.

The appeals court order put a stop to Wednesday’s hearing.

Attorneys from The Innocence Project say Harris County District Judge Doug Shaver had no judicial authority over the case when he signed the execution order in July 2019.

The motion says Shaver was assigned to preside over Reed’s case in 2014 after the previously assigned judge recused herself.

The motion says Shaver was never given an end date to stop carrying on this role. However, the Texas constitution limits the terms of Texas District Court Judges to four years.

Reed’s defense team says a properly assigned judge should hear the case going forward.

Shaver sent a letter to the Texas Supreme Court on August 9, 17 days after signing the execution order announcing he was retiring as a Texas judge. The letter also asked the court to “please remove my [Shaver’s] name from the list of judges who receive assignments.”

Shaver also sent an email that same day to Judge Billy Ray Stubblefield; the presiding judge over the Third Administrative Judicial Region where Shaver lives. In that email, Shaver cited concerns over his own competence to rule on cases.

Reed’s mother and brother say they’re thankful for the support from celebrities like Kim Kardashian-West and Beyonce but the fight’s not over.

“I will stay strong until the end of whatever we are going through, I have to be there for my son,” said Sandra Reed.

Rodney Reed is scheduled to be executed one week from Wednesday on Nov. 20.

All of these unknowns are part of the defense’s argument in from of the United States Supreme Court, according to Amanda Marzullo, Executive Director of the Texas Defender Service.

“One of the issues that is in front of the Supreme Court is saying that it’s cruel and unusual to execute someone when there is such a cloud over whether or not they did it,” said Marzullo.

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