More than a dozen protesters waving signs that said “Stop Executions” and “Remove Judge Sharon Keller” showed up outside the Bexar County Courthouse about 8 a.m. today in anticipation of Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Presiding Judge Keller’s hearing on ethics charges. The State Commission on Judicial Conduct initiated formal proceedings against Keller in February. The commission's five charges against Keller stem from events on Sept. 25, 2007, when the state executed Michael Richard after his lawyers were unable to file a motion for stay of execution and writ of prohibition because the CCA’s clerk's office did not remain open past 5 p.m. Then-general counsel Ed Marty had notified Keller about a request to keep the clerk’s office open after 5 p.m. that day to receive a filing. Keller said the office closed at 5 p.m. Scott Cobb of Austin, president of the Texas Moratorium Network, was among today’s courthouse protesters. Cobb contends Keller violated the Code of Judicial Conduct because she did not tell Marty to notify the CCA duty judge for Richard’s execution. Outside the courthouse, protester Anna Terrel, a member of Restorative Justice, yelled on a microphone, “She shouldn’t be on the bench, get rid of her.” Keller’s hearing is expected to last three to four days. Judge David Berchelmann Jr. of San Antonio's 37th District Court, special master for the case, will report his findings to the judicial conduct commission.
-- Mary Alice Robbins