Tuesday, August 20, 2013

A Plea Bargan for the Judge

She cut a deal.  Really, it's a plea bargain.

The Chief Judge of the Court of Criminal Appeals admits she broke the law when she made an oopsie forgot to mention lied on her ethics disclosure reports in 2006 and 2007 by not mentioning some $3.8 million in property and income.  It was as she, who never met a criminal other than herself for whom she had any sympathy, explained when brought up on charges before the Texas Ethics Commission her 80-year-old Daddy's fault. He gave her bunches of property but didn't tell her.  (That doesn't address the income part, but hey, she ignored that before, why not now?

Really, you can't doubt her.  She is, after all, a judge.  And just as Clarence Thomas didn't understand when filling out his disclosure forms that the part where it said to list spouse's income actually meant he was supposed to list his spouse's income (he's a Supreme Court Justice, after all, not a tax accountant so can't be expected to understand complicated terms like that), so Sharon I'll-close-the-courthouse-door-whenever-I-feel-like-it-so-fuck-you-and-your-client Keller didn't know that her millions were, well, her millions.


Anyway, back in 2010, the Texas Ethics Commission issued a "final order," found her guilty, and fined her 100 grand for her lies.  Which she promptly appealed because, after all, that's what criminals do after they're convicted it was unfair to hold her responsible and make her pay a fine just because she violated the law.  And so things hummed along until just a couple of weeks ago we learned that she wasn't actually appealing.  She was cutting a deal.  Like any good crook tries to do.

And now it's done.  Here's the guts of the deal:
WHEREAS, KELLER now agrees to pay a fine of $25,000 to TEC to resolve these
reporting violations and accepts the findings by TEC in the Final Order that the foregoing eight omissions from her Personal Financial Statements for 2006 and 2007 constituted reporting violations of Chapter 572 of the Texas Government Code.
(I'd post the settlement agreement here, but scribd and my computer seem no longer to be on speaking terms, so you just get a link.  Here.)
Grits offered this headline.
Sharon Keller ethics fine whittled down by 75%
And he explained
The income Keller failed to report in 2007 alone is nearly as much as she made for her job as a judge, which makes it difficult to accept the claim that the omissions were an oversight. If asked your income on a sworn document, would you be likely to forget nine sources of income totaling in the six figures?
Texas, it's worth pointing out, has executed something like 300 people since Keller became Chief Judge.  Her court could have stopped any of those executions.  It didn't.  The folks had been found guilty.  No deals for them.

That $100,000 fine would have been the largest the TEC ever issued.  The $25,000 one is still among the highest ever. But something of a drop in the bucket to Keller.  Who wrote a check.

Meanwhile, Duane Buck waits to see in her court will grant him any relief.  As do the others.

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