Sunday, October 14, 2007

Take Grits web poll: What if any sanction for CCA Judge Sharon Keller?

With one complaint already filed by some of the state's most prominent lawyers, and another one being prepared by the Harris County Criminal Lawyers Association, this week's Grits reader poll asks, "Should Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Presiding Judge Sharon Keller be sanctioned for refusing to accept a 20-minute late death penalty appeal without consulting her colleagues?"

If you'd like to review the complaints against Keller before deciding (or for whatever reason), here's the complaint already filed with the Commission on Judicial Conduct last week by 20 prominent attorneys, and here's the complaint draft prepared by the HCCA. (There's still time to join the HCCA complaint for those who would like to do that; get the details from Mark Bennett.

And while we're on the subject of appellate judges, I couldn't help but think of Judge Keller and the CCA upon reading Joel Jacobsen's excellent post at Judging Crimes, laughing out loud when he asked, "what better job than appellate judge for the person who feels a psychological need to win every argument but lacks the intellect to win any?" Moreover, continues Jacobsen, "Whenever an appellate judge starts talking about 'collegiality' on the court, pay attention, because it's a coded confession: he or she is admitting that the judges run the court primarily for their own benefit."

Hmmm. You mean like going home at 5 p.m.?

I think Jacobsen has placed his finger on the pulse of the CCA's problem, both intellectually and psychologically, particularly its presiding judge. This court could use a little more intellect, and a lot less collegiality.

So far, though, no candidates have surfaced in either party to take on the disgraced incumbents. I still believe the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals remains Democrats' best shot at picking up a statewide seat in the '08 campaign cycle, but not if they don't put some horses in the field.

Anyway, let me know what you think: Should Keller be sanctioned? Should she be bounced out of office? Or should the Commission let it slide? The poll will be in the top right hand corner of the page for the next week.

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