Not as soon as I would have liked, since I think this saga has dragged on long enough, but at least we have a date.
Mark it in ink: The trial to assess whether Judge Sharon Keller violated her duty as head of the state's highest criminal court will begin Aug. 17 in Austin.
Neither side is willing to entertain a compromise that could derail the trial, which could last a week or longer and help determine whether Keller remains presiding judge of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.
"There is no possibility of Judge Keller accepting anything other than a dismissal of the charges," said her lawyer, Chip Babcock.
That won't happen, said Seana Willing, executive director of the State Commission on Judicial Conduct, which charged Keller with improperly closing her court to an after-hours appeal by death row inmate Michael Richard in 2007.His execution later that night made international headlines.
The commission might be willing to accept an agreement that included a public censure of Keller, Willing said. "But I don't see the judge offering to accept anything that acknowledges misconduct, and that would be the only thing we would consider," Willing said.
Both sides are conducting discovery under civil court procedures while the commission searches for an Austin courtroom capable of handling the expected crowd. "At least for the first day or so, I imagine the trial will be heavily attended," Willing said.
A reprimand would be appealed to the Texas Supreme Court, Babcock said. A vote to remove Keller from the court, where she has sat since 1994, would be reviewed by a specially formed panel of seven appellate court judges.