The Houston Chronicle Editorial Board says in “Tarnished justice: Misconduct trial of Judge Keller depicts a court of confusion” that Sharon Keller’s actions have “brought worldwide scorn upon the state’s highest criminal court.”
More from today’s editorial:
Incredibly, Keller’s defense at the San Antonio proceeding was that she was just enforcing office hours and not preventing the Richard appeal from being filed. After all, her attorney Chip Babcock argued, the lawyers could have contacted other court judges. In fact, no one outside the court knew there was a judge on call, and court policy requires lawyers with appeals to go through the court clerk rather than contacting judges. For Keller now to say that the issue was not a substantive life and death matter, but rather a question of office hours, is laughable on its face.
Even less believable was a claim by the court’s former general counsel, Ed Marty, that he had told Judge Johnson about the defense lawyer’s request for additional time. Judge Johnson flatly denied that and testified Marty had simply said no filing had come in. Why would Judge Johnson have stayed late at the court waiting for that appeal to be filed if she knew it had already been rebuffed?
As with many a defendant who has used technicalities to evade conviction, Judge Keller will likely get off with a hand slap. But she committed gross negligence of her duty to provide impartial justice to all, even convicted murderers. If she does run for re-election in 2012, voters should replace her with a jurist who takes seriously his or her oath of office.