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October 19, 2007
State Commission on Judicial Conduct
P.O. Box 12265
Austin, TX 78711
Dear Members of the Commission:
I am writing to file a formal complaint against Judge Sharon Keller, Presiding Judge of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. On the evening of September 25, 2007, Judge Keller refused to keep her office open past 5pm to accept the pleading of Michael Richard, a man scheduled to be executed by lethal injection that same night. Judge Keller's unethical actions require the commission to take immediate disciplinary measures against her.
Mr. Richard's constitutional rights were denied by Judge Keller and he was executed later that night. This incident has cast a pall over the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, and has greatly diminished the public's perception of the courts as a fair and impartial mechanism for justice.
Judge Keller knew Mr. Richard's pleading was on its way to the court and still she refused to open her doors and accept the submission. This may have been understandable in the case of a traffic ticket violation, but when a person's life is at stake it is simply unconscionable. Judge Keller should be reprimanded promptly for her judicial misconduct. The damage done to the integrity of Texas courts is not irreversible; however, it must include stringent disciplinary action against Judge Keller, including the consideration of removing her from office.
Representative Jessica Farrar