Hearing on Keller Impeachment set for April 27th
AUSTIN - The Texas House Committee on Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence announced today that it would hear public testimony regarding the impeachment of Chief Justice Sharon Keller of the Court of Criminal Appeals on April 27th.
The impeachment resolution was introduced by Rep. Lon Burnam (D - Fort Worth ).
"It is important that the committee be made aware of the public's desire for impeachment," Mr. Burnam said. "I encourage anyone who wishes to see justice done in this matter to come to room E2.010 in the capitol on Monday afternoon and register 'for' House Resolution 480."
The impeachment resolution stems from Judge Keller's alleged violation of the Court's practice of remaining open on scheduled execution nights. On September 25, 2007, the judge instructed court staff to refuse appeal filings from lawyers for death row inmate, Michael Richard.
Richard's appeal was based on announcements made by the United States Supreme Court the morning of they scheduled execution. Although Richard was executed that night, the Court of Criminal Appeals (over which Judge Keller presides) later granted two stays of execution based on the same arguments Richard's lawyers attempted to present.
If passed, HR 480 calls on the House of Representatives to form a committee to investigate Judge Keller for "gross neglect of duty and willing disregard for human life." If the House finds cause for impeachment, a trial would then be held in the State Senate.
The State Ethics Commission is also currently investigating Judge Keller; a hearing has been scheduled for August 16th to investigate the judge's actions in the Richard Case. In addition, the Ethics Commission is investigating Judge Keller's omission of 20 million dollars in Dallas area real estate holdings from mandatory disclosure forms filed with the Commission.