Saturday, August 07, 2010

Warning Judge Keller

The State Commission on Judicial Conduct yesterday issued its response (pdf) to Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Presiding Judge Sharon Keller's request for a writ of mandamus from the Supreme Court of Texas, declaring Keller's request outside the bounds of the SCOT's jurisdiction. See Keller's petition (pdf) and earlier Grits coverage. They rebut Keller's claims to argue that:
  • The Commission's Order of Public Warning Was Authorized by the Constitution and this Court's Rules Interpreting the Constitution.
  • Judge Keller's Complaints About Individual Findigs of Fact Are Not Cognizable in Mandamus.
  • Judge Keller's Argument Regarding the Commission's Vote Consists Entirely of Impermissible Speculation.
  • No Commissioner Was Disqualified from Service.
  • The Commission's Order Is Not "Void" and Judge Keller Has an Adequate Remedy at Law Through a Trial De Novo.
Interestingly, Executive Director Seanna Willing has changed her stance. The agency's position appears to be fluid, perhaps because of disagreements between commissioners and the executive director.Willing had earlier argued that the Commission acted outside its authority to "warn" Keller instead of issuing a formal "censure" that would have barred her from acting as a visiting judge after she leaves the bench. Now she argues - with Examiner Mike McKetta who has consistently maintained the warning was okay - that the Commission could legally give the lesser sanction, while ironically Judge Keller argues that the Commission had no authority to issue a "warning" as punishment. Willing has flip flopped and Keller has adopted her former stance. Weird.

I've got to admit, I don't care much who is right on the details of the obscure debate over the Commission's power to "warn" judges after a formal hearing, though it's telling that judges are punished so rarely they've never had to figure it out. At this point I'm just watching for the entertainment value, which to this writer, anyway, has been substantial.


Hook Em Horns said...

The entertainment value is worth her stupid appeal!

cjSweetwater said...

What she got still amounts to a slap on the hand. Should have been fired and then prosecuted. I say prosecuted because it's frowned upon, even here in Texas, to shoot her or string her up.

Anonymous said...

Just more disgusting, filthy, dirty politics. Those who are supposed to follow the law do as they please while they throw the book at everyone else. She has no respect for life, she should be shown none!

Anonymous said...

Trial de novo?