Sharon Keller, the highest ranking appellate judge on the criminal side of the Texas judicial system, who admitted to disregarding court procedures that she knew were in place in order to prevent a man on death row from obtaining a stay of his execution, was given a mere "public warning" for her misconduct causing his death by a Texas judicial ethics panel. The slap on the wrist punishment, which has no practical effect, was handed down last week.
She could have been either removed from office or exonerated. A public reprimand was generally thought to have been the only other option available to the judicial discipline panel and would have barred her from serving as a visiting judge should she retire, but the board did not impose that sanction. The process for appealing the ruling has not been established.
The same judge also received the largest fine in the history of the state's ethics laws for failing to disclose her personal finances as required by state laws in a violation that the Ethics Commission responsible for that violation stated was also a crime.
Keller remains in office at the moment, and her term does not end until 2012. She could run for re-election to the post.