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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Legal Experts Need to Speak Up More Often

Legal Experts Slam Alleged Affair Between Judge and Prosecutor on Murder Trial
The Associated Press by Jeff Carlton - September 17, 2008

DALLAS (AP) - Legal experts are harshly criticizing a former judge and an ex-Texas prosecutor, saying their alleged sexual affair while handling cases together represents a black eye to the system. "It's such incredible bad judgment because it throws every conviction into doubt," said Fred Moss, a Southern Methodist University law professor. An apparent open secret 20 years ago in Collin County legal circles, the alleged affair became part of the public record again last week. Lawyers for death row inmate Charles Dean Hood sought a stay of execution in the nation's busiest death penalty state, arguing former Judge Verla Sue Holland was biased because of her relationship with ex-Collin County District Attorney Thomas O'Connell.

About 30 former prosecutors and federal and state judges have already signed a letter sent to Gov. Rick Perry arguing the alleged relationship had to be considered when it came to Hood, convicted in 1990 of fatally shooting two people in Plano. The letter states that a sexual relationship, which Hood's lawyers say the judge and prosecutor acknowledged under oath during depositions last week, "would have had a significant impact on the ability of the judicial system to accord Mr. Hood a fair and impartial trial." Hood received a reprieve, although the alleged affair was not the reason. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals wants to reconsider whether the jury instructions were flawed.

"The appearance of impropriety is absolutely there and it does affect the integrity of the system," said Rick Hagen, president of the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association. "And you can't deny that." Attorneys for Holland and O'Connell declined to discuss their clients' depositions, citing a gag order. In an affidavit, former assistant district attorney Matthew Goeller said it was "common knowledge" that the judge and prosecutor "had a romantic relationship" from at least 1987 until about 1993. Hood was tried in 1990. Neither Holland nor O'Connell have been publicly disciplined by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct or the State Bar of Texas.

Besides Hood, there are four other death row inmates convicted in Collin County during the overlapping tenures of O'Connell and Holland. Three were convicted in front of other judges; a record for the fourth could not be located. Moss said he expects the appeals court to find a reason to grant a new trial for Hood, who was convicted of killing a 26-year-old former dancer and her 46-year-old boyfriend. "What it does is bring the whole system into question," Moss said. "It's a real black eye to the system and very unfortunate. It shakes the confidence of the public in the criminal justice system."


Anonymous said...

Just like the criminals who have been allowed to manipulate the financial markets and have led to devastating consequences, the criminals who have taken advantage and controlled our legal system will be found out and it will lead to their downfall.

Anonymous said...

Judges, Lawyers,Cops, Prosecutors, the Legal and Judicial System etc. are Above the Law...Period..Very sad but true.

Anonymous said...

Judges and lawyers have legal incest. One gives and the other takes. The lawyers then take from the people.

Blog Archive

See Video of Senator John L. Sampson's 1st Hearing on Court 'Ethics' Corruption

The first hearing, held in Albany on June 8, 2009 hearing is on two videos:

               Video of 1st Hearing on Court 'Ethics' Corruption
               The June 8, 2009 hearing is on two videos:
               CLICK HERE TO SEE Part 1
               CLICK HERE TO SEE Part 2