State Judicial Conduct Commission Accuses Judge Sharon Keller of "Incompetence," Discrediting Judiciary

So, back to Court of Criminal Appeals Judge Sharon Keller. But only because there's breaking news this afternoon: The Austin American-Statesman's gotten hold of a notice of formal proceedings from the State Commission on Judicial Conduct, which says that "Judge Keller's willful and persistent failure to follow CCA's Execution-Day procedures on Sept. 25, 2007, constitutes incompetence in the performance of duties of office." In total, the commission alleges five violations of the Texas Code of Judicial Conduct, which could lead to her removal from the bench following a public hearing.

The eight-page notice details the events of September 25, 2007, when the Dallas-born hamburger heiress left work to meet a repairman, even though she knew Death Row inmate Michael Richard's attorneys were on their way to file a last-minute stay of execution. Keller will be tried by a special master appointed by the Texas Supreme Court. Reports the Statesman:

Keller will be allowed to present evidence, raise objections, and call and cross-examine witnesses in a forum that will resemble many civil court trials, said Seana Willing, executive director of the Commission on Judicial Conduct.

"The judge can put on her case and we can put on our case," Willing said.

Keller has 15 days to respond in writing to the notice.
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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky