Judge Sharon Keller has been issued a public reprimand for her conduct involving the attempted appeal of death row inmate Michael Richard. See San Antonio Express News report. Judge Keller sits on the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, the state’s highest court for criminal cases. As readers will recall, Judge Keller refused Richard’s lawyer’s last minute request to keep the clerk’s office open until they could file an appeal. The State Commission on Judicial Conduct investigated. The Commission has now issued her a public reprimand. This sanction is much less than the requested sanction that she be removed from office.
Judge Keller violated known protocol for the court, as I explained in earlier posts. This story demonstrates the unpredictability of all litigation. On any given day, even the best judges will make a bad call. That is why lawyers discuss settlement. As my former judge used to say, the worst settlement agreement is better than the best trial. He meant that no matter how strong your case may be, you should consider settlement. Because, one never knows what may happen at trial.