No, I don’t know what a “public warning” is, either. It’s the first time I’ve heard that phrase. But it’s what the Trib says Sharon Keller got as her “punishment” from the State Commission on Judicial Conduct. What it sounds like to me is something less than a censure, which says to me they wimped out. But read the official doc for itself and see what you think.
UPDATE: Okay, I’ve finished reading the opinion, and it’s very clear that the SCJC holds Keller responsible for what happened. They called her conduct “willful or persistent” four times in their Conclusions Regarding Binding Obligations. I’m just puzzled by the “official warning”. Is this some legal term with which I’m unfamiliar? If you can, please help me understand that. Thanks.
UPDATE: From the Chron story:
Keller’s lawyer, Chip Babcock, said by telephone that she would appeal the decision. The appeal will be filed with a three-judge panel that will be appointed by the Texas Supreme Court, he said.
“Judge Keller is disappointed and shocked that the Commission has completely disregarded the findings of respected trial judge David Berchelmann, who presided over a four-day trial. It is perhaps not surprising that the same commission that made the charges finds them now to be valid despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Judge Keller looks forward to challenging this decision in the judicial system,” Babcock said in a statement.
Those who had complained of Keller were no happier.
“The people of Texas have been publicly warned today that we have an unethical judge on the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals who did not accord a person about to be executed with access to open courts or the right to be heard according to law. Yet she has been allowed to keep her job,” said Scott Cobb, president of the Texas Moratorium Network.
“Really, this is the worst-case scenario for Texas. Now we know the problems in the Texas death penalty system reach to Texas’ highest-ranking criminal appeals court, yet the judge who closed the doors to justice for this particular individual remains in office.”
Whatever, Chip. From where I sit, she got away with it. Have fun keeping this in the public eye. The campaign ads in 2012 are already writing themselves.
UPDATE: Grits points to this Statesman story, which notes that while an appeals process for these procedures was mandated by the Lege, the Supreme Court has not created that process yet. Even more fun! Grits thinks Keller is running in 2012, too.