Off the Kuff Rotating Header Image

Posts Tagged ‘State Commission on Judicial Conduct’

Consequences are for suckers

They’re not for former judge Elizabeth Coker, thank you very much. State District Judge Elizabeth E. Coker, who presided over Trinity, Polk and San Jacinto counties before resigning Dec. 6 under fire in a texting controversy, filed Monday to run for Polk County district attorney next year. Coker will be challenging the incumbent prosecutor, Lee […]

Judge Pratt update

The most embattled Family Court judge in Harris County is still on the ballot, in case you were wondering. Embattled state District Court Judge Denise Pratt, accused of falsifying court records to cover up tardy rulings, intends to remain on the ballot to face the voters, her lawyer says. In late October, the Harris County […]

Who judges the judges?

Meet the guy that’s been going after judges with behavioral issues. The photograph at the top of Greg Enos’ monthly email newsletter is always the same: A pack of mongooses confronting a reared-up cobra. The Webster family lawyer says the image is a symbol of a change he aims to kindle in the Houston-area legal […]

From the “Judges Behaving Badly” files

We’ll start with now-former Judge Elizabeth Coker: An East Texas state district judge who had been accused of sending text messages to coach a prosecutor during a trial, being biased against some attorneys and improperly meeting with jurors has resigned as part of an agreement with a state judicial commission. Elizabeth E. Coker did not […]

It’s official, Keller skates

Can’t say I’m surprised. Bitterly disappointed, but not surprised. A special court of review on Monday declined to reconsider a decision to void an ethics rebuke given to Sharon Keller for her role in a botched execution-day appeal, apparently ending the case against Texas’ top criminal judge. Prosecutors had argued that the special court mistakenly […]

Maybe we’re not on the hook for Keller’s legal fees after all

Well, at least it’s a small consolation. Clearing up confusion in its dismissal of an ethics rebuke against Judge Sharon Keller, a special court of review has issued an order that no longer makes taxpayers liable for Keller’s legal costs. The court’s original Oct. 11 order said Keller could recoup legal costs from the State […]

Maybe Keller hasn’t gotten away with it just yet

Could there possibly be some accountability in this world? [The state Commission on Judicial Conduct]‘s executive director, Seana Willing, asked the panel to reconsider its decision to dismiss the case, which stemmed from Keller’s actions on the day Michael Wayne Richard was executed in 2007. The three-judge panel had ruled that because the commission had […]

Keller takes a victory lap

She’s still blaming others and lying about the facts. Texas’ top criminal judge said Tuesday that she feels vindicated that a special court dismissed a public reprimand of her for closing her court and preventing lawyers from filing a last-minute appeal hours before their client was executed. “What happened to me shouldn’t happen to any […]

Keller gets away with it

I’m thoroughly disgusted. A special court of review Monday threw out an ethics rebuke given to Presiding Judge Sharon Keller for closing the Court of Criminal Appeals at 5 p.m. despite knowing that lawyers wanted to file an appeal for an inmate facing imminent execution in 2007. [...] Bringing the high-profile case to a swift […]

Keller’s final appeal

You have to admire the tenacity, I’ll give her that much. A special court of review plans to decide by Oct. 8 whether to dismiss a judicial ethics panel’s rebuke of Judge Sharon Keller or move forward with her appeal. Keller appeared before the special court’s three-judge panel Monday to push for dismissal now, avoiding […]

Keller’s appeal denied by Supremes

Poor baby. The Texas Supreme Court this morning denied Judge Sharon Keller’s request to throw out last month’s public rebuke for her role in a botched 2007 death row appeal. Later today, Keller’s lawyers are expected to file a separate appeal challenging the “public warning” given by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct. That appeal […]

SCJC contests Keller’s appeal

When last we met, Sharon Keller had appealed the curious “warning” she received from the State Commission on Judicial Conduct to the Supreme Court, arguing that the Commission had acted “lawlessly” by issuing that particular sanction. The Commission has now fired back, saying essentially that it’s Keller who has violated protocol: [I]nstead of appealing the […]

Keller appeals to Supreme Court

She’s still going for full vindication. Because as far as she’s concerned, she did nothing wrong. [I]n a Supreme Court petition filed Thursday, Keller argued that the commission acted in a “lawless” manner because the Texas Constitution forbids it to issue such a warning. “The order violates the constitution and is void. At the very […]

What is this “warning” of which you speak?

I’m glad to see that someone is asking questions about the warning that the State Commission on Judicial Conduct handed down to Sharon Keller. Seana Willing, the commission’s examiner, contends in an e-mail that the order is based on a rule that does not comport with the Texas Constitution. As examiner in judicial misconduct cases, […]

“Warning” versus “reprimand”

Rick Casey answers a question that has been bugging me about the State Commission on Judicial Conduct ruling that issued a “public warning” to Sharon Keller. A majority of the panel agreed that Keller needed to be sanctioned for ignoring the procedures she admitted to knowing. Because of the poor performance of Richard’s lawyers and […]

Keller gets “public warning” from the State Commission on Judicial Conduct

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 […]

The Keller hearings

The current phase of the Sharon Keller saga may end soon. Sharon Keller, fighting to keep her job as the state’s top criminal court judge, should know her fate soon. After a five-hour hearing Friday, members of the State Commission on Judicial Conduct met privately to begin deliberating charges that in 2007 Keller improperly closed […]

Keller hearing today

Today is the day for the State Commission on Judicial Conduct to have its hearing on the Sharon Keller case and to decide what to do with the findings of the Special Master. Today, prosecutors plan to argue that [Special Master David] Berchelmann’s findings were misguided and that the evidence showed Keller failed to perform […]

Keller gets slammed by Ethics Commission

Wow. The Texas Ethics Commission has levied a record $100,000 fine against Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Presiding Judge Sharon Keller for failing to make full financial disclosures in 2007 and 2008. [...] The commission in an order made public on its Web site today said Keller in 2006 failed to report between 100-499 shares […]

Next Keller hearing June 18

Mark your calendars. The State Commission on Judicial Conduct set a June 18 hearing in the continuing case of Presiding Judge Sharon Keller of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. Keller was accused of bringing “public discredit” to the judiciary by not accepting a last-minute appeal from death-row inmate Michael Wayne Richard before his 2007 […]

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 next for Sharon Keller?

We have the Special Master’s report on the Sharon Keller case, so what happens next? Grits reminds us: The Judge was only empowered to make recommendations to the [State Commission on Judicial Conduct], which may still decide whether to dismiss the charges, reprimand Judge Keller, or recommend her removal to the Texas Supreme Court. So […]

Editorialists call for sanctions on Keller

Special Master David Berchelmann may think that Sharon Keller has suffered enough, but that doesn’t appear to be a popular position. Here’s the Express News weighing in: Richard’s guilt is not at issue, nor is the fact that he ultimately would have been executed. What is at issue is Keller’s judgment in allowing the state […]

More on Keller

Here’s the Chron story about Sharon Keller getting off lightly in the report produced by Special Master David Berchelmann for the State Commission on Judicial Conduct. Of interest is the reminder that Keller isn’t out of the woods just yet. Seana Willing, the commission’s executive director, said Berchelmann’s report is a recommendation and that Keller […]

Keller gets off

Fresh from the Trib: Sharon Keller, the presiding judge of the state’s highest criminal court, will not be removed from the bench following a trial and review by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct. [...] The special master finds that all parties – including the Texas Defender Service – were partly at fault, and that […]

More on Judge Jackson

Prosecutors aren’t done investigating Harris County Criminal Court Judge Don Jackson, who was indicted this week on charges of official oppression. Donna Hawkins, a spokeswoman for the Harris County District Attorney’s Office, said investigators in the public integrity division want to know whether there are other people who have any knowledge of similar behavior in […]

Harris County criminal court judge indicted

Oops. A Harris County Criminal Court-at-Law judge was indicted Thursday on a misdemeanor charge of official oppression, accused of offering to get a DWI defendant in his court help getting her case dismissed in exchange for a sexual relationship. According to the indictment, Judge Donald W. Jackson, 59, offered to get the young woman “a […]

That’s a wrap for the Keller trial

So the judicial misconduct trial of Sharon Keller is now over, and we will await the ruling from District Judge David Berchelmann Jr., who will compile “findings of fact” for the State Commission on Judicial Conduct; the Commission will then decide to drop the charges, censure Keller, or recommend she be removed from the bench. […]

Same old Sharon

I’ll say this for Sharon Keller. She is steadfast in her beliefs, and there is nothing you can say to her to make her waver from them. The presiding judge of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals who refused to keep open the clerk’s office before a last-minute death row appeal could be filed told […]

Keller testifies

Day Two of the trial of Judge Sharon Keller had Keller herself testifying. Rapid-fire questions from Austin lawyer Mike McKetta, acting as the prosecution, drilled into the heart of the charges against Keller — that by violating the court’s established procedure, the judge denied death row inmate Michael Richard his day in court and brought […]

The Keller trial, Day One

If you want a detailed blow-by-blow description of the trial of Court of Criminal Appeals Justice Sharon Keller, go to the Statesman’s Focal Point blog, which has been liveblogging the procedure. Here are links to various entries: Opening statement by the prosecution. Opening statement by the defense. Possible bombshell from Ed Marty, the Court of […]

A preview of the Keller case

Texas Lawyer has an in depth look at some of the facts that are in dispute in the judicial conduct hearing for Court of Criminal Appeals Presiding Judge Sharon Keller, which begins today. It is, as the story’s headline suggests, a lot of he said/she said stuff. I don’t envy the task that 37th District […]

Keller goes on the offensive

We’re less than two weeks out from the judicial conduct hearing on Court of Criminal Appeals Chief Justice Sharon Keller, and it’s clear that her defense strategy will be to attack her accusers. Keller, facing potentially career-ending charges that she improperly closed her court to a death row appeal, will argue that defense lawyers fabricated […]

Texas Monthly on Sharon Keller

Texas Monthly gives the long-form magazine article treatment to Sharon Keller and her upcoming trial before the Commission on Judicial Conduct. It’s well worth reading, and they try their best to humanize her, but I can’t bring myself to care about that. I think she’s amply demonstrated that she’s a bad judge, whose decisions are […]