Lon Burnam plans to continue his push to impeach Sharon Keller, reports the Fort Worth Star Telegram in “Impeachment push from Burnam continues as ethics panel awaits response from embattled judge“.
The House should definitely impeach Keller, because if she is impeached she will be automatically suspended from office. The process by the Commission on Judicial Conduct could take up to 18 months and includes no provision to suspend her from office. She will be suspended only after the House votes for impeachment.
State Rep. Lon Burnam, D-Fort Worth, said Friday that he will press ahead with efforts to impeach Judge Sharon Keller while a judicial ethics commission begins an inquiry against Keller that could take more than a year to complete.
The State Commission on Judicial Conduct announced plans Thursday to convene trial-like hearings against Keller, presiding judge of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, just days after Burnam introduced a resolution to begin impeachment proceedings in the Legislature. Both actions stem from Keller’s refusal to keep her office open after hours to allow a last-minute appeal from a Death Row inmate who was executed several hours later.
A legislative impeachment proceeding and the commission’s inquiry could ultimately lead to the same result: her removal from the bench. But Burnam, in a telephone interview, reiterated dissatisfaction with the pace of the commission investigation and said he will pursue his impeachment resolution.
“That’s a way to keep pressure on the commission to do its job,” Burnam said, likening the judicial panel to a fox “guarding the henhouse.”
Burnam also called on Keller to step down. The judge’s office declined to comment and referred questions to her Houston attorney, who had not responded to calls by late Friday afternoon. Keller has 15 days to answer the charges.
“To my way of thinking, if she had any integrity at all, in two weeks, she’d resign,” Burnam said. “She aborted due process, and the action resulted in the untimely execution of a human being. There was a general sense of outrage when the incident occurred.”