Ethics Hearing Concludes for TX Judge Sharon Keller

The hearing of Texas Judge Sharon Keller on ethical violations stemming from her refusal to allow the courthouse to remain open to accept a last-minute stay pleading for a death row inmate wrapped up yesterday. The New York Times calls her unfit for the bench and says she should resign:

We believe the death penalty is in all cases wrong. But people who support it should still insist that it be carried out only after a prisoner has been given every reasonable chance to make his case. Judge Keller’s callous indifference in a case where the stakes could not have been higher makes her unfit for office.


Keller remained unremorseful throughout the proceeding:

Special prosecutor Mike McKetta said ... Keller continues to discredit the judiciary by not taking accountability for her actions.

“This might have been an entirely different matter if instead of hearing (from Keller), ‘I did nothing wrong,' we heard, ‘I was confused about the execution day procedure,'” he said.

In fact, she testified she would do nothing different today than she did on the day in question.

What happens next:

San Antonio-based District Judge David Berchelmann Jr., who has overseen the proceedings since Monday, will prepare a “findings of fact” report for the panel — a process that likely will take months. At that point, both sides will have an opportunity to issue written objections and then will deliver a second round of oral arguments — this time before the commission members.

The commission will decide whether to drop the case, issue a public censure or recommend to the Texas Supreme Court that Keller be removed from office.

One of the Texas lawyers who filed a complaint against Keller, which was signed by 1,900 people, presents his view at Burnt Orange Report.

My view: Keller should be removed from office for violating the court's Execution-Day Procedures and for bringing discredit to the Texas judiciary.

< Caveat Emptor | Federal Court Orders Disclosure to Detainee Who Worked for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed >
  • The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news

  • Contribute To TalkLeft

  • Display: Sort:
    Keller probably has friend in high places (none / 0) (#1)
    by Saul on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 12:22:15 PM EST
    that might be the reason for her  unremorseful attitude.  She probably knows she wont't be removed.  

    However, she should be removed in order to set an example for other judges.

    No... (none / 0) (#5)
    by kdog on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 01:32:39 PM EST
    she should be removed because she is unfit to hold her position...forget the example nonsense.  

    No one should be used as an example by the state...not even judges who don't take their job near seriously enough.


    Removal is not enough (none / 0) (#2)
    by Andreas on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 12:45:14 PM EST
    She contributed to the death of a person. From what I have read she did this deliberately.

    Judge Keller should resign (none / 0) (#3)
    by KeysDan on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 12:53:57 PM EST
    to restore, at least some semblance of honor to the Texas judiciary. However, the judge does not seem to be capable doing the right thing.

    Well, (none / 0) (#4)
    by bocajeff on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 01:32:10 PM EST
    do you think it would have made a difference? This is about process, not outcome...

    Don't give me this defense team (none / 0) (#6)
    by Discovery on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 02:20:07 PM EST
    Michael Wayne Richard had over twenty years to have his case over turned.  There was another judge available that day for emergency stay motions and other judges available. The lawyers didn't attempt to contact any of them.  Texas law allows for any judge to be contacted.  And the defense team waited until the last fifteen minutes in an 8 hour day before realizing that the court was closing an hour early - this is the lawyers fault.

    Why isn't there the same anger for the defense lawyers for screwing up the procedures and not having any type of contingency plan - nor having a person standing in the court house in person?  If they are paid to protect one man's life - why weren't they at the court house in person standing in every judges office?  

    I work in sales - and I could not imagine trying to close a major account by waiting until the 11th hour and doing it over the phone?  If it is that important - you can be anywhere in the country same day for under $500 dollars.  

    This isn't about justice - this is about destroying one person's life long career in order to make a point.  The ends justify the means is  a dangerous philosophy.  

    I call it a dereliction of duty of the lawyers.  
    If I am ever in need of a defense team in a murder trial - don't give me these guys who can't even figure out 20 years before my sentence what the closing time of the court is, can't show up in person, waits until 15 minutes in an 8 hour day to make a phone call to save my life, takes no for an answer and can not take the time to call any other judge nor the emergency stay judge on duty.  That's called lazy.

    And to me it is so sad to watch the hunger to destroy careers and lives of the innocent because of the laziness and lack of planning of a few.

    Part of the reason for waiting 20 years was (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by Angel on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 03:35:12 PM EST
    because the Supreme Court that very morning made a ruling that affected his case.  Read everything about this and get your facts before you start saying this is about destroying someone's career because it isn't, even though Sharon Keller is known to be a hateful and uncompassionate judge.  She was at home tending to her plumbing problem instead of in court to take the phone call.  And it was her job to refer the case to the other judge on call.  Get all the facts, dude.  Both sides made mistakes in this case, but it fell to Sharon Keller to refer the case to the judge on call for this type of event, yet she chose to "just say no" and take care of her personal business while a man was executed.

    "that very morning" (none / 0) (#8)
    by diogenes on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 03:45:49 PM EST
    It's still an eight hour day, and the briefs should have been prepared in advance as if the court would issue the stay and been delivered the moment the stay was issued--i.e. in the morning.  

    Yeah, right. You'd do everything P.E.R.F.E.C.T. (5.00 / 0) (#10)
    by Angel on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 06:36:11 PM EST
    They couldn't have the briefs ready - the arguments would be made on the ruling of the Supreme Court - which happened that morning.  Sheesh.  Sharon Keller would have said NO regardless.  That's who she is.  I know.

    misplaced outrage (none / 0) (#11)
    by diogenes on Fri Aug 21, 2009 at 11:08:05 PM EST
    "Michael Wayne Richard
    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Michael Wayne Richard (24 August 1959 - 25 September 2007) was a rapist and murderer whose execution gained notoriety because of procedural problems.
    On 18 August 1986, in Hockley, Texas, while on parole for motor vehicle theft, Richard entered the home of Marguerite Dixon, stole two television sets, raped Dixon, fatally shot her, and then stole her van.
    In the wake of the Supreme Court of the United States expressing interest in the question of the constitutionality of lethal injections, on the same day that the execution was scheduled, Richard's lawyers sought a stay of execution."

    So all this outrage is about whether he should have had a chance to be executed in a DIFFERENT WAY?  His guilt was undisputed, it seems.  How about some outrage against rapist/murderers?

    Keller (none / 0) (#13)
    by nellieh on Sat Aug 22, 2009 at 02:41:36 PM EST
    No doubt she attended a seminar on the Constitution delivered by Scalia.

    With Alberto Gonzales and Harriet Miers..... (none / 0) (#14)
    by Angel on Sat Aug 22, 2009 at 02:51:19 PM EST
    The unheard fact (none / 0) (#15)
    by TannerEgg on Tue Nov 17, 2009 at 03:39:22 PM EST
    While I agree that Judge Sharon Keller should be removed from her position, everyone is favor of this move is glossing over a very important fact.

    The judge did not simply refuse to work 20 minutes past the court's closing time, she closed it early.  

    She was the only judge present that evening, and she decided to close the offices prior to 5 pm so that she could go home to meet her repairman.

    How is no one else aware of this fact?