'Killer' Keller Digs Herself Deeper

The courthouse doors might close at 5pm, but Judge Keller's problems won't quit knocking

Nearly two dozen legal ethicists have signed on to a declaration filed Tuesday with the State Commission on Judicial Con­duct calling for the ouster of Court of Criminal Appeals Presiding Judge Sharon "Killer" Keller. Keller will face a hearing this summer on charges of official misconduct in connection with her actions on Sept. 25, 2007, when she effectively blocked death row inmate Michael Richard from filing a final appeal. When Richard's lawyers asked if the court would remain open to accept a late filing, Keller infamously announced that the court closes at 5pm. Richard was subsequently executed.

In their declaration, the ethicists – most of them law professors from universities across the country – cite statements Keller made on the campaign trail in 1994 about being "pro-prosecution" as evidence of her "manifest lack of impartiality." Moreover, they argue that Keller's failure to include on financial disclosure statements her interest in real estate worth roughly $2 million was part of a lie – an attempt to obtain state money to cover legal fees associated with the commission's charges against her. The Dallas Morn­ing News first reported last month that Keller had apparently failed to make the financial disclosures, after she told the commission that requiring her to pay for her own defense would be "financially ruinous."

"Keller has committed serious violations of the Texas Code of Judicial Conduct," the ethicists wrote. "These violations are sufficiently serious to require that Judge Keller be removed from office."

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Sharon Keller, State Commission on Judicial Conduct, Michael Richard

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