A PUBLIC WARNING is the lightest disciplinary action the State Commission on Judicial Conduct could take other than dismissing the complaint which the Commission chose not to do.
At first you think “PUBLIC WARNING”, big deal. Don’t get me wrong I think the voters should decide Judge Sharon Keller’s fate, not the State Commission on Judicial Conduct.
However, after reading the nineteen page “PUBLIC WARNING” you go “ouch”, the Commission denied all of the Motions filed by Keller’s attorney, Charles “Chip” Babcock, and then listed ONE HUNDRED AND NINETEEN things Judge Sharon Keller did wrong and did not state one thing she did right. The worse of this is that she said she would do it again. She knew the U. S. Supreme Court had issued a temporary Habeas Corpus earlier in the day. What seems to be the most damaging to me is that she did not tell her fellow judges what happened the next day during a conference. One Judge, Cathy Cochran, even brought up the after 5 PM filing procedure and Keller never told her fellow justices of her decision the night before. Two employees went to Keller and are quoted as saying they “believed that he, “Marty” TCCA General Counsel Edward Marty, could not talk to a different judge about the communication because it would have been going behind the Presiding Judge’s [Keller] back and would have been disloyal to her.”
Judge Keller admitted that the two people in charge that day in the Clerk’s office had never been trained on Execution day procedures and that she did not tell them to call the judge on duty that day, Judge Cheryl Johnson. Judge Cheryl Johnson as well as Marty and Acosta said they would have accepted the late filing after 5 PM. In fact they were all present until 7 PM and it would have been easy for them to handle the request and paperwork. TCCA General Counsel Edward Marty and TCCA deputy clerk Abel Acosta felt, “they had been given their marching orders” and could not take a late filing. Because of Keller’s action the U. S. Supreme Court could not accept a last minute filing, because the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals had not denied the stay of execution and they can only take a case once all avenues in state courts have been exhausted.
What I found stunning is that Keller left her office at 3:45 P. M., some reports say it was to meet a plumber at her home. Keller however kept in touch with her office with the last call at about 4:59 PM the Commission public warning said; “”Judge Keller asked Marty why the clerk’s staff should be made to remain after hours for lawyers who cannot get their work done on time.” The Commission found however that the Texas Defense Service lawyers had in fact had computer problems that day and even asked if they could fax or email the Motion for Stay of Execution so that would open the door for them to then go to the U. S. Supreme Court.
the State Commission on Judicial Conduct found that Judge Keller by her actions, “constituents willful or persistent conduct that is clearly inconsistent with the proper performance of her duties as a judge of the Court of Criminal Appeals”.
The out of Fort Worth Texas caught up to Keller’s attorney, Charles “Chip” Babcock while he was vacationing in Canada and Babcock is quoted as saying; “[he was] ‘shocked and disappointed’ by the findings and said that Keller is considering an appeal.”
“It is likely that Judge Keller will appeal this ruling but a final decision has not yet been made,” Babcock said. “The public warning is the least severe sanction that the commission can make. The problem with the opinion is that the findings that the commission has made does not comport with the overwhelming evidence in the case.”
Babcock tole the Texas based website the Statesman.com; “It is perhaps not surprising that the same commission that made the charges finds them now to be valid despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary,” said her lawyer, Chip Babcock. “Judge Keller looks forward to challenging this decision.”
In other news on Judge Keller, the one hundred thousand dollar fine against Judge Keller issued by the Texas Ethics Commission for Keller’s failure to disclose over 2.4 million dollar in assets is also under appeal by Keller. That 2. 4 million in undisclosed assets were uncovered and corrected by Keller, when Keller asked for Texas taxpayers to pay her legal fees for Babcock. It would appear the Sharon Keller saga in Texas will be ongoing for now. Keller is up for reelection in November 2012.
Be sure to participate in our MEMBERS ONLY FORUMS, get the most out of the site by learning your way around in the forums where you can safely discuss things you do not want to see copied and pasted on another site.
July 17, 2010
All Rights Reserved, do not reproduce in whole or in part without the express written consent of the author.
The expressions in this blog article are based on the opinions of Rose Turner or our featured authors, please remember we are not lawyers and those opinions expressed here are each of our individual opinions and should not be taken as legal advice and/or legal opinions. The comments following this blog article are the opinions and sole property of the blog site members and do not necessarily reflect those of the site owners.Alma Lagarda esq., Austin Texas, Charles "Chip" Babcock, Chief Justice Texas Criminal Court of Appeals, constituents persistent conduct, constituents willful conduct, constituents willful or persistent conduct, David Dow esq., disloyal to Judge Keller, Dorinda Fox, Fort Texas, Greg Wiercioch esq., Habeas Corpus, High Profile Trials, Honarble Sharon Keller, Judge Berchelmann, Judge Cathy Cochran, Judge Cheryl Johnson, Judge Sharon Keller, Judge Tom Price, Keller fined one hundred thousand dollars, Presiding Judge Sharon Keller, PUBLIC WARNING, PUBLIC WARNING issued against Judge Keller, Special Counsel John J. McKetta III, Star Telegram, State Commission on Judicial Conduct, TCCA, TCCA deputy clerk Abel Acosta, TCCA General Counsel Edward Marty, Texas Criminal Appeals Court, Texas Criminal Court of Appeals, Texas Criminal Court of Appeals Judge Cochran, Texas Criminal Court of Appeals Judge Johnson, Texas Defender Service, Texas Defense Service, Texas Ethics Commission, Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct, Travis County Texas, U. S. Supreme Court, Writ of habeas corpus