Sunday, May 2, 2010

Daddy Made Me Do It

Oh the problems of the dishonest rich.
Sharon Keller, you remember her.  She's the one who shut the courthouse door, the one who said she did nothing wrong and wouldn't do a thing differently but shouldn't be punished because the judge making the recommendation thought she must have learned her lesson even though she denied it.  She's the one who explained to Frontline that
We can't give new trials to everyone who establishes, after conviction, that they might be innocent.
She's the multi-millionaire Chief Justice of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.  The one who has no sympathy and doesn't believe in second chances or mitigation or evidence of innocence or the rights of the accused.  Or so we thought.
Because see, when it's her ox that's being gored.
So when she was up on those charges of violating judicial ethics, she demanded counsel of her choice at state expense and at counsel's ordinary rates, regardless of her ability to pay.  She offered defenses that almost wholly failed to address the charges.  She denied responsibility and was outraged that anyone could think she might have been responsible for her own actions.  She . . . .
You get the idea.  And woe to the criminally accused or convicted with such chutzpah.
Anyway, now it's a different ethics charge.  This time, she screwed up her financial reporting forms.  
Here's how Jamie Spencer sums it up.
First, Presiding Judge of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Sharon Keller didn’t know she was stinking rich, and then, she simply forgot to report it as required by law. And even though she didn’t know about it, she apologized. Even though she had done nothing wrong.
With less editorial license, AP reported it this way.
The top judge on Texas’s highest criminal appeals court has been fined $100,000 by the Texas Ethics Commission for not fully reporting her income and property holdings. The fine against Judge Sharon Keller of the Court of Criminal Appeals is the largest ever imposed by the commission. Judge Keller’s sworn personal income statements for 2007 and 2008 did not include properties valued at more than $2 million and other income totaling about $183,000. She is facing five charges of judicial misconduct for refusing to accept a late appeal from a twice-convicted killer in September 2007.
The Dallas Morning News gives more detail.
The ethics commission found Keller did not disclose more than $2.4 million in holdings in the sworn financial statement she filed with the commission in April 2007 and more than $2.8 million in the document she filed in April 2008.
The largest omission the commission found was Keller's ownership interest in eight pieces of property. But the panel also found that she had not disclosed $183,000 in income and 25 bank notes, money market accounts and certificates of deposit.
The commission did not identify the properties at issue.
The News found Keller, who is from Dallas, failed to list two homes, valued together at $1 million, inside her family's compound on Garland Road. Her omissions also included two other properties valued at $823,000, a vacant commercial site in Euless and an occupied commercial property next to Keller's Drive-In on Northwest Highway.
And, oh, there's this.  She's appealing.  It is, after all, so unfair to hold her responsible for her own actions.  After all, it wasn't really her fault.  The story first broke more than a year ago.
She released a statement at the time saying that her father, who is in his 80s, had acquired the undisclosed properties without her knowledge.
Way to go, Judge.

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