Editorial: Whatever judge is hiding, it's not good senseMarch 31, 2009
Dallas Morning News Editorial
Just what is Judge Sharon Keller trying to pull?
The controversial presiding judge on the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has claimed it would be "financially ruinous" to have to defend herself against ethics charges stemming from her infamous conduct in the Michael Richard death penalty appeal case. When that didn't work to get the charges dismissed, Keller asked Texas taxpayers to foot the bill for her defense before the state Commission on Judicial Conduct.
Surprise, surprise: Keller's no indigent. As The Dallas Morning News' Steve McGonigle revealed yesterday, the judge failed to disclose more than $2 million in real estate holdings, as required by law. She might even be far wealthier than that; McGonigle's report concerned only those assets the judge is forced by law to declare publicly.
Did Keller intentionally hide this financial information from the public, or was this merely an incompetent oversight? Only Keller knows for sure.
What we have, then, is a multimillionaire jurist concealing her assets and pleading poverty for the sake of a state subsidy. Whatever the legal ins and outs of this sorry mess, in the court of public opinion, this is an open-and-shut case of facts evasion.
Whether the disclosure flap is a sin of commission or omission, it reveals that a top Texas judge lacks something essential to the performance of her job: good judgment.
Then again, that was clear when her petty refusal to keep the courthouse doors open past 5 p.m. to accommodate computer problems sent inmate Michael Richard to an untimely death.
Whatever Keller ultimately has to pay in her own defense, she's getting a better deal than she gave him.