So the judicial misconduct trial of Sharon Keller is now over, and we will await the ruling from District Judge David Berchelmann Jr., who will compile “findings of fact” for the State Commission on Judicial Conduct; the Commission will then decide to drop the charges, censure Keller, or recommend she be removed from the bench. You can and should read all of the coverage – here’s the Chron, here’s the Statesman, and here’s the excellent blow-by-blow stuff from Focal Point here, here, here, and here – but to me, the essence of this whole case, and the reason why it makes me so mad, is in this statement from Keller’s defense attorney Chip Babcock, quoted in the Statesman story:
Babcock said the charges against Keller assume that “we live in a black and white world. I think our society, and what happened here, is a little more nuanced than that.”
Are you kidding me? Have you ever read any of Judge Keller’s rulings from the Court of Criminal Appeals? Because according to Judge Keller, we do live in a black and white world, one in which the prosecution is always correct and never at fault, and the defense is always wrong. She’s got a decade-long track record of it. I keep coming back to this “what would Judge Keller do?” theme because it keeps coming up, and it doesn’t get any more obvious than this. From a legal standpoint, it doesn’t matter what Judge Keller would do, it matters only what Judge Keller did do and what she should have done on that day in 2007. But if you want to understand why some people, like me, are so fired up about this trial, it’s precisely because Sharon Keller is asking – demanding, really – to be judged by a different standard than the one she has used to judge so many of the appellants that have appeared before her court. And the irony is that she does deserve to be judged differently, because her standard is so horribly misguided that nobody, not even her, deserves to be judged by it.