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Objections to Special Master’s findings on Sharon Keller filed

Yesterday was the deadline for the examiner in the Sharon Keller case to file objections to the Special Master’s report. The examiner did have some objections, and they have now been filed.

The prosecutors’ objection said the special master who presided over the case, state District Judge David Berchelmann, focused on the “irrelevant” matter of what caused Richard’s execution rather than on what they said were Keller’s willful and incompetent actions.

Berchelmann faulted some of Keller’s behavior but maintained that she violated no laws. He said the Texas Defender Service — which represented Richard — bore “the bulk of fault for what occurred on Sept. 25, 2007.”

Berchelmann said Keller shouldn’t lose her job or be punished “beyond the public humiliation she has surely suffered.”

The Texas Defender Service earlier disputed Berchelmann’s characterization, and the prosecutors said Wednesday, “The issue here is not TDS’s conduct, but Judge Keller’s conduct.”

The prosecutors asked that the Commission on Judicial Conduct, which will consider the special master’s report, “determine such consequences to Judge Keller’s conduct as the Commission finds to be supported by the findings and to be just.” They said her conduct authorizes action under an article of the Texas Constitution that allows for discipline, censure or removal from office. Removal would require further proceedings.

I recommend you read the objections, or at least Grits’ summary of them. To put it bluntly, the examiner tore Berchelmann’s report up most impressively. For those of you who, like me, think that Keller has not been disciplined enough for her behavior, this offers some hope that she still may face real sanctions. It’s up to the Commission now.

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