A judge on Texas’ highest criminal court, accused of blocking appeals for an inmate the night of his execution, is now facing formal bad-conduct charges that could result in her removal from office, reports the Associated Press. The Texas Commission on Judicial Conduct charged Sharon Keller, presiding judge of the Court of Criminal Appeals, with “willful or persistent conduct that casts public discredit on the judiciary.” Keller refused to keep the court offices open after 5 p.m. on Sept. 25, 2007, when attorneys for Michael Richard asked for a 20-minute extension because computer problems were delaying their efforts to file late appeals of his death sentence.
Richard was executed that night by lethal injection for the rape and murder of a Houston-area woman. Earlier that day, the U.S. Supreme Court had agreed to review the constitutionality of lethal injection in a Kentucky case. “Judge Keller absolutely and totally denies these accusations,” said her attorney, Chip Babcock. Keller has 15 days to formally respond to the charges in the start of a process that could take a year and a half or longer. The charges do not prevent her from continuing to preside over cases, Babcock said. Keller is a Republican who has served on the court since 1994 and her relentless tough-on-crime approach earned her the nickname “Killer Keller.”