Late this afternoon, the special appellate panel issued its decision in the matter of Chief Judge Sharon Keller of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.
As you may remember, Chief Judge Keller had been given a “public warning” by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct. She then filed a petition for mandamus with the Texas Supreme Court; that request was eventually denied. So her case proceeded to appeal within the state judicial-conduct system before a panel of specially appointed appellate judges from around the state.
In short, Chief Judge Keller argued that “public warning” was not on the menu of remedies available in a formal State Commission on Judicial Conduct hearing. The commission could have formally censured her (but did not). But if it found that a full censure was unwarranted, its only choice was to dismiss the charges because there was no lesser sanction available.
Today, the special appellate panel agreed. You can read its opinion (PDF) here. The appellate panel concluded that, because the commission had already held an evidentiary hearing, there was no need for a second one. The commission’s original decision refused to impose any of the valid remedies (censure, removal from office, etc.). Having concluded that there was no basis for those valid remedies, the commission’s only choice should have been to dismiss the charges.
See also: “Appellate Court Vacates Sanction of Keller” (Texas Tribune)