Outmanned. Not Outmatched.
Mary Lou Keel is opposed in the runoff by a man who, by any relevant, objective criteria, is under-qualified to serve on the Court of Criminal Appeals.
Keel outpolled her runoff opponent by greater than two-to-one in the 2016 State Bar of Texas judicial poll .
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals hears criminal cases on appeal, nothing else.
As a prosecutor for Harris County, Keel represented the State in 279 criminal cases on appeal.
She also earned experience in criminal appeals as a briefing attorney for the First Court of Appeals in Houston.
The work of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals is mostly felonies.
Keel has been a felony trial court judge in Harris County since 1995. The court she serves, the 232nd District Court, is dedicated by statute to criminal cases.
Her opponent has spent most of his judicial career in misdemeanor court..
Judge Keel has been Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization since 1990.
Her opponent failed the criminal law certification exam in 2007. He claimed he would re-take it in 2009, 2014 and 2015.
He refuses to answer questions about how many times he has failed the test and is hiding the records about the issue.
The most serious and uniquely challenging cases heard by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals involve the death penalty.
As a prosecutor, Keel represented the State in five death penalty cases on appeal in the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. All five were affirmed.
As a trial court judge, she has presided over five capital murder cases where the State sought and the jury assessed the death penalty. Those five were affirmed on appeal by the Court of Criminal Appeals, and then Keel handled their post-conviction writs. Two of those offenders have been executed, and three still have pending writs.
Her opponent has no experience with death penalty litigation.
Reversals: Keel vs. Opponent
There is one area where her runoff opponent manages to outdo Keel: reversals.
He has a habit of wrongly throwing out evidence, suppressing confessions and dismissing charges in cases as serious as child molestation and online soliciation of a minor.
He claims that he refuses to follow the law if he disagrees with it, and he takes pride in being known as a "contrarian" and a "different kind of judge."
It's hard to say whether these rulings are due to his inexperience with criminal law or his refusal to follow it, but neither explanation recommends him for a spot on our state's highest criminal court.