January 23, 2008
The circus is coming to town

That's about the most succinct way I can think of to summarize this story about the court hearing next week in which Chuck Rosenthal has to explain his email deletions or risk facing contempt of court charges.

The hearing, which will take place Jan 31 in U.S. District Judge Kenneth Hoyt's court, was sought by Lloyd Kelley, the attorney representing two brothers suing Harris County for wrongful arrest. Kelley filed a motion for sanctions against Rosenthal, alleging the district attorney deleted more than 2,500 e-mails after they had been subpoenaed and ordered produced by the court.

In court papers filed Monday, Kelley gave a list of people he plans to call to the witness stand, including Rosenthal; prosecutor and Republican DA candidate Kelly Siegler; Siegler's husband, Dr. Sam Siegler; Rosenthal's executive assistant Kerry Stevens; his chief investigator John Ray Harrison; his political consultant Allen Blakemore; and prosecutor Mike Trent.

Kelly Siegler had informed Rosenthal's employees that the e-mails were improper and "possibly illegal," Kelley said, while Siegler's husband exchanged "racy" and off-color e-mails with Rosenthal.

Stevens was the recipient of romantic e-mails sent by the married Rosenthal through the county e-mail system.

Blakemore may be asked to testify on the use of county computers for election campaign purposes, while Trent may be asked in court about an e-mail he sent in 2003 that some have interpreted as racist -- an assertion that Trent denies.

Kelley also intends to summon as witnesses Sheriff Tommy Thomas, County Judge Ed Emmett, County Attorney Mike Stafford and Rosenthal's attorney, Ron Lewis.

Kelley said he hopes the Jan. 31 hearing will explore when and why Rosenthal deleted the e-mails; which e-mails were deleted; whether Rosenthal committed perjury about the e-mails; whether Rosenthal and his employees engaged in "illegal or unethical behavior" that motivated them to not comply with the court's order -- and what capabilities they had of recovering the deleted e-mails.

Kelley also hopes the hearing will explore whether Rosenthal and his staff "conspired to withhold documents" and to "hide the deletion of e-mails." He is asking the court what punishment should be imposed and what restitution or remedy should be awarded to his clients.

Oh, my, my. This has all kinds of potential for fun and chaos. It also has the potential to be a perjury trap for Rosenthal. I can't wait to see what comes out of it.

And it won't just be Lloyd Kelley bringing his rod and reel to the courtroom, either:

Lewis, in court papers, also said he intends to explore whether Kelley knowingly made confidential information in Rosenthal's e-mails public in violation of a Nov. 20, 2007 protective order. Lewis said he will call KHOU-TV reporter Jeremy Rogalski as a witness to testify whether he received "confidential documents" from Kelley on or about Jan. 8.

Rogalski broke the story on Jan. 8 that Rosenthal's e-mails contained potentially racist and sexist content and sexually explicit bloopers.

Lewis also gave notice that he intends to call Kelley as a witness to testify about his compliance with the court's orders and his claims that his clients' legitimate discovery needs have been affected.

Is there any way we could get this thing televised? I'd totally TiVo it.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on January 23, 2008 to Scandalized!
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