Monday, October 21, 2013

Voters should approve "Sharon Keller Disciplinary Case Memorial Amendment"

The Dallas Morning News, with tongue only partially in cheek, declared that Proposition 9 on the November ballot should be called the “Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Presiding Judge Sharon Keller Disciplinary Case Memorial Amendment.” They explained, "The State Commission on Judicial Conduct reprimanded Keller with a public warning in 2010 for her actions in closing the court before a death-row inmate could file a last-minute reprieve. Keller later got a special court to dismiss that reprimand, since the Texas Constitution does not specifically say a disciplinary case could lead to a warning, although the state’s legal code does."

See Grits' analysis of the underlying issues following oral arguments in Judge Keller's case. I suppose this was necessary at some level, but the Judicial Conduct Commission had ample authority to reprimand Keller legally, just not the cojones. Like the Ethics Commission, the Judicial Conduct Commission was seeking any excuse to reduce the penalty while acknowledging Keller's violations and ended up doing so in a ham-handed way that breached their constitutional authority. Still, as the Austin Chronicle noted, the amendment "would remove a disincentive to the conduct of open proceedings" and by that reasoning alone it deserves passage.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well the Judicial Conduct Commission might not be completely ineffective. 258th District Judge Elizabeth Coker resigned today following an investigation by the commission into ethical violations by her on the bench.