Keller’s final appeal

You have to admire the tenacity, I’ll give her that much.

A special court of review plans to decide by Oct. 8 whether to dismiss a judicial ethics panel’s rebuke of Judge Sharon Keller or move forward with her appeal.

Keller appeared before the special court’s three-judge panel Monday to push for dismissal now, avoiding a three-day trial at the end of November over the rebuke from the State Commission on Judicial Conduct.


Chip Babcock, Keller’s lawyer, argued that the commission exceeded its authority in issuing the rebuke in the form of a “public warning.” Under Texas law and the state constitution, the commission could issue the harsher punishment of censure, but not a warning, he said.

“Your only choice is what we’re asking — dismiss this. Do not force Judge Keller to go through a new trial,” Babcock said during the hearing at the Texas Supreme Court near the Capitol.

But the three judges, chosen at random to sit on the review panel, steered Babcock into a discussion about ways to reclassify the rebuke to conform to state law or the constitution.

“Is it just a (correctable) error?” asked Justice Elsa Alcala of the 1st Court of Appeals in Houston.

The judges will render their decision by October 8. If they deny her motion to dismiss the original charges, the next hearing, which would basically be a re-litigation of the first one, would begin at the end of November. Grits was there for this, and he has more. I’ve previously suggested that Keller getting off on a technicality at the end of all this would be the bitterest irony I can imagine, but I must say that I can also imagine her ending up with the censure she should have gotten in the first place, all as a result of her refusal to leave well enough alone. That would be poetic, to say the least.

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