Thursday, February 19, 2009

Inquiry concerning a judge, No. 96

Pursuant to Section 33.022 of the Texas Government Code and Rule 10 of the Procedural Rules for the Removal or Retirement of Judges, as promulgated by the Texas Supreme Court, this NOTICE is hereby given to the Honorable Sharon Keller, Presiding Judge of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, that formal proceedings have been instituted against her, based upon the following...

So begins the Notice of Formal Proceedings filed by the Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct against Judge Sharon Keller for her shameful behavior on the afternoon of September 25, 2007, when she refused a request from the Texas Defender Service to file a writ of prohibition on behalf of Michael Richard, who was scheduled to be murdered by the State of Texas that evening.

Judge Keller, despite her knowledge that the U.S. Supreme Court had granted certiorari in Baze v. Rees to decide whether Kentucky's method of lethal injection constituted cruel and unusual punishment, ordered the clerk's office to close at 5:00 p.m. Judge Keller made that decision despite the fact that Judge Cheryl Johnson was the designated judge in charge of Mr. Richard's execution.

Making matters worse, Judge Keller did not inform Judge Johnson, or any of the other judges of her decision to close the clerk's office. Judge Keller did not relay any of the messages from Mr. Richard's attorneys to Judge Johnson, nor did she inform Mr. Richard's attorneys that Judge Johnson was in charge of the case.
Judge Keller left her chambers at the CCA during the afternoon on September 25, 2007, to meet a repairman at her home. Judge Keller did not return to the CCA that day. -- Paragraph 14
The Commission alleges that Judge Keller's "willful and persistent failure to follow [the Texas Court of Criminal Appeal's] Execution-day Procedures on September 25, 2007" violated her duty as Presiding Judge, discredited the Court and demonstrated incompetence. The Commission also alleges that her actions deprived Mr. Richard of his constitutional due process rights.

Judge Keller has 15 days from the date of filing (February 18, 2009) to respond to the allegations.

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