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JUDGE WATCH: Justice Keller Trial Set to Start August 17 in San Antonio, Civil Trial Judge Berchelman Presiding

It’s going to be hard to get a parking space around the Bexar County Courthouse in San Antonio later this month — because starting August 17th, the impeachment trial of Justice Sharon Keller will begin in the courtroom of State District Court Judge David Berchelmann Jr.

A State Civil District Judge Will Preside Over the Impeachment Trial of the Chief Justice of the Highest Court in the State for Criminal Proceedings

That’s right. Judge Berchelmann will have the duty of acting as “special master” in the Keller impeachment. And, while it’s like a civil trial (which he presides over regularly), things will be a bit different. He will hear opening statements and closing arguments. Witnesses will take the stand and documents will be entered into evidence.

And, after all is said and done, then the civil trial judge will issue his findings to the State Commission on Judicial Conduct.

Isn’t it interesting that a civil judge is in this position? Think about it. Keller is from the world of crime and criminal procedure. Is a civil trial judge a peer for her?

Double-checking Berchelmann

Well, things won’t stop with David Berchelmann. His findings will be reviewed in a public forum by the Commission, and the Commission members will then vote one of three ways: (1) to exonerate, (2) to reprimand or (3) to remove from office.

If number three — a removal recommendation — is chosen, then the Texas Supreme Court comes into the party. The highest court for civil matters in the state would convene a tribunal to review the recommendation to remove. This tribunal would be comprised of appellate court judges from across the state, chosen at random. And, all the appellate courts in Texas hear both civil and criminal matters, by the way.

Curiouser and curiouser.

Oh, and just in case you’re interested: the wonderful San Antonio Riverwalk is just steps away from the Bexar County Courthouse … for anyone attending the Keller impeachment, it’s not a bad place to be for about a week to ten days.

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