An embattled Texas judge who closed her court before a death-row inmate could file his final appeal should not lose her job or receive any further punishment beyond the "public humiliation" she has faced, a judge presiding over her ethics trial said in a report released Wednesday.
Judge Sharon Keller still faces five judicial misconduct charges for refusing to keep her court open past 5 p.m., and the state commission that will ultimately decide Keller's fate is not bound by the recommendations in Wednesday's report.
But the report makes it clear that Keller is not to blame for a twice-convicted killer being executed Sept. 25, 2007.
"Although Judge Keller's conduct on that day was not exemplary, she did not engage in conduct so egregious that she should be removed from office," wrote state district Judge David Berchelmann, who oversaw Keller's ethics trial.
Berchelmann went on to recommend that Keller was also undeserving of "further reprimand beyond the public humiliation she has surely suffered."
Interesting to note that "public humiliation" is a substitute for an official reprimand when a judge engages in behavior that's "not exemplary of a public servant" and considered "highly questionable."
Here's a link to the full findings of fact (pdf) from the special master. Judge Berchelmann's recommendation will now go to the full Commission on Judicial Conduct who will decide whether to dismiss charges, reprimand Keller, or recommend her removal from office.