03 May 2010

Judge Fined $100,000 For Faulty Disclosures

Sharon Keller, a controversial presiding judge on the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, has been fined $100,000 for lapses in her financial disclosures.

The ethics commission fined Keller for failing to report stock, honoraria and more than $2.4 million in real estate holdings on her 2007 and 2008 personal financial disclosure statements. Keller filed amended reports with the commission last year after news reports revealed her missing holdings.

Keller is appealing the decision.

She also faces ethics charges for pre-empting court rules to turn aside a death row appeal in a way that caused an execution.

Keller created a national controversy on Sept. 25, 2007, when she told court clerks to close the door on appeals by Michael Wayne Richard just hours before he was executed. The U.S. Supreme Court had agreed to hear a case earlier in the day that could have affected Richard, and several other Texas death row inmates won stays of execution in the next several days.

The judicial conduct commission filed a complaint against Keller, but a special master said she broke no laws and should not be punished “beyond the public humiliation she has surely suffered.” Prosecutors in the case have appealed. A court hearing is scheduled for June 18.

Another day in Texas.

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