Court of Criminal Appeals
Sharon Keller is a native Texan. She holds a B.A. degree in philosophy from Rice University and a J.D. degree from Southern Methodist University School of Law.
Judge Keller began her legal career in 1978 in the private practice of law in Dallas. Subsequently, she worked for several years for her family’s drive-in restaurant business. She served as an assistant district attorney in the appellate section of the Dallas County District Attorney’s office from 1987 until 1994. Judge Keller was first elected to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals in 1994.
She was elected Presiding Judge in 2000 and has been re-elected to that position three times. She is now serving her fifth term on the Court. She is the first woman to have served on the Court, and she is the Court’s longest-serving Presiding Judge.
Over almost 29 years on the Court, Presiding Judge Keller has participated on a number of committees dedicated to the improvement of the criminal justice system. Her committee work includes areas such as probation, mental health, and reentry from prison to society. She has been a member of various organizations such as the Governor’s Criminal Justice Advisory Committee, the Harvard Executive Session on Community Corrections, the Timothy Cole Exoneration Commission, and the Council of State Governments Justice Center, of which she was a founding board member and former chair.
She has been Chair of the Texas Indigent Defense Commission since its inception in 2002. TIDC is a statewide organization that promotes innovation in indigent defense and helps counties with funding and technical assistance.
She is also currently a member of the Judicial Advisory Council to the Community Justice Corrections Division of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. She is Chair of the Board of the Texas State Law Library, and a Life Fellow of the Texas Bar Foundation. By virtue of her office, she is vice-chair of the Texas Judicial Council.
In 2003 Presiding Judge Keller received the Distinguished Alumni Award for Judicial Service from the SMU Dedman School of Law. In 2011, the Texas Board of Criminal Justice awarded the Chief Justice Led Mental Health Task Force, of which she was chair, the POP Mental Health Award for its efforts in the promotion of positive mental health initiatives to enhance the Texas criminal justice system. She was recently awarded the 2023 Lifetime Achievement Award by the Judicial Section of the State Bar of Texas.