From one Honor to another…
** Texas Appeals Judge Keller fined $100k **
by The Associated Press kvue.com Posted on April 30, 2010 at 12:43 PM Updated today at 2:00 PM
AUSTIN, Texas – The top judge on Texas’ highest criminal appeals court has been fined $100,000 for not fully reporting her income and property holdings as required by law.
The fine against Court of Criminal Appeals Judge Sharon Keller is the largest ever imposed by the Texas Ethics Commission. The panel issued the order Wednesday.
Keller’s sworn personal income statements for 2007 and 2008 didn’t include properties valued at more than $2 million and other income sources totaling about $183,000. She also is facing five separate charges of judicial misconduct for refusing to accept a late appeal from a twice-convicted killer in September 2007.
Keller’s attorney, Ed Shack, said Friday he had not yet talked to Keller and declined immediate comment.
Texans for Public Justice, the liberal watchdog group that filed the ethics complaint over the financial disclosures, said Keller “deserved a substantial penalty.”
“It sends the wrong signal when top state judges don’t follow the law. I think this fine is the Ethics Commission’s way of saying that public servants will be held to the highest standards,” said Texans for Public Justice Director Craig McDonald. "Nobody can put themselves above state ethics laws.
Keller, a Republican, has been on the court since 1994. The financial reporting misconduct complaint came after The Dallas Morning News reported that Keller’s routine annual financial disclosures did not include two Dallas homes and commercial land.
Keller later filed amended reports to include the properties. She explained that she had mistakenly omitted the assets from previous disclosures because her father, Dallas landowner and hamburger restaurateur, Jack Keller, hadn’t told her of them.
When the amended reports were filed, Shack said Keller “wasn’t trying to deceive anybody.” He said some of properties had been listed several years earlier but were inadvertently dropped.
The Ethics Commission ordered Keller to pay the fine by Aug. 10.