Tribpedia: Sharon Keller

Sharon Keller is the current Presiding Judge of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, the state's highest criminal court.  She was elected presiding judge in 2000 and reelected to that position in 2006 and is the first woman to have served on the court.  A native Texan, she earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy from Rice University in 1975 and her Juris Doctor degree from Southern Methodist University School of Law in 1978.

During her tenure, Justice Keller has made controversial decisions on high-profile cases she presided over.  In 1998 the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals came under national scrutiny when despite new DNA evidence, it denied a new trial to Roy Criner, who was convicted of sexual assault in 1990.  According to the New York Times, Keller wrote the majority opinion, saying that the new evidence was not enough to cast doubt on the guilty verdict. Then Governor George Bush pardoned Criner in 2000.

In 2009 she was placed under review by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct regarding her handling of the last minute execution appeal of Michael Richard. The Commission reprimanded her but did not remove her from her bench

According to her official bio on the TCCA website, Keller is also chairwoman of the Texas Task Force on Indigent Defense and chairwoman of the Council of State Governments Justice Center.  She is a Life Fellow of the Texas Bar Foundation and a member of the Judicial Advisory Council to the Community Justice Assistance Division of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.  By virtue of her office, she is vice chairwoman of the Texas Judicial Council.

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