Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Keller impeachment resolution to be heard on Monday

I've gotta admit, I didn't believe this idea would even get a hearing, but the articles of impeachment against Presiding Judge Sharon Keller of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals will be heard in committee on Monday, according to a press release by Rep. Lon Burnam (received via email):

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.


Anonymous said...

I'm completely shocked that a Republican committee chair (Todd Hunter) gave Lon a hearing on this. The Repubs must really be embarrassed by Keller, which of course they should be.

Anonymous said...

Sharon Keller is but one tiny cell in the cancer that has destroyed the integrity of Texas' so-called justice system. Let's hope the powers that be show her the door.

Anonymous said...

and let's also hope that this justice system continues to keep people like Richard's from your doorstep.

Michael said...

Well, it's just a bit past midnight and, when I left the hearing about 20 minutes ago, the discussion on Keller had been going on for two hours. The speakers for impeachment included former Court of Appeals Justice and hornbook author Michol O'Connor; former Texas Bar President Broaddus Spivey; and Austin legal ethics expert Chuck Herring. Former CrAp judge Frank Maloney was present to testify against impeachment (yeah, my jaw hit the ground too).

Scott, didn't see you there?! There weren't many friends of Judge Keller in the room, but there were a few.