In condemnation of the conduct described above that violated Article 5, section 1-(a)(6)A of the Texas Constitution and Canon 3B(8) of the Texas Code of Judicial Conduct, it is the Commission's decision to issue a PUBLIC WARNING to the Honorable Sharon Keller, Presiding Judge of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, Austin, Travis County, Texas.
Pursuant to the authority contained in Article 5, section 1-a(8) of the Texas Constitution, it is ordered that Judge Keller's conduct described above be made the subject of a PUBLIC WARNING by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct. -- Commission's Findings, Conclusions and Order of Public Warning, Inquiry Concerning Honorable Sharon Keller, Judge No. 96For those of you who haven't followed the proceedings, Chief Judge Keller told David Dow and the Texas Defenders Service that the Court would not remain open for late filings on the day that Michael Richard was scheduled to die at the hands of the state. Mr. Richard's attorneys scrambled that day to prepare a writ of habeas corpus challenging the constitutionality of the lethal drug cocktail used by Texas to kill inmates as the US Supreme Court granted a writ of certiorari in a case out of Kentucky alleging that the drugs used by Kentucky (the same drugs used by Texas) masked the suffering of the inmate while he lay dying.
At a hearing presided over by Judge David Berchelmann, Jr. of San Antonio, Judge Keller tried to throw the blame squarely on Mr. Dow's shoulders for not filing his pleadings on time. Judge Berchelmann fell for the misdirection and spent entirely too much time raking Mr. Dow and his organization over the coals when the focus of the inquiry was Judge Keller's conduct.
The State Commission saw past the smokescreen and found that Judge Keller violated the rules of the court regarding execution day protocols, knowing that her actions would allow the state to kill Mr. Richard. The commission then issued a public warning rebuking Judge Keller for her actions -- the first time a sitting judge on the Court of Criminal Appeals has received such a warning. (Click here for the Commission's Findings.)
Judge Keller has said that she will appeal the Commission's finding and warning. Nice to see the judge taking advantage of a protocol that she denied to a man scheduled to die.