February 16, 2008
More on Rosenthal's resignation

Here's today's Chron story on Chuck Rosenthal's decision to finally walk away from the job as Harris County DA.

Rosenthal's decision marked a change of heart from his previous vows to finish out the remainder of his term even though he had abandoned his re-election plans because of the e-mail controversy. It was not immediately known Friday how quickly Gov. Rick Perry would appoint an interim replacement to lead the district attorney's office until Rosenthal's term expires Dec. 31.

Rosenthal, 62, said a combination of prescription drugs had impaired his judgment, and constant media coverage of his controversial e-mails -- which included some sexually explicit and racist content, along with affectionate notes to his executive assistant -- had taken its toll on his family.

"Although I have enjoyed excellent medical and pharmacological treatment, I have come to learn that the particular combination of drugs prescribed for me in the past has caused some impairment in my judgment," Rosenthal wrote in his resignation letter.

"The federal court's release of my private e-mails around Christmas of last year brought a lot to bear on my wife and children. I have been trying to restore my family as a unit, but the constant media pressure has made that restoration more difficult. I am hopeful that, in my retirement, the media will accord my family the privacy we need to heal."

As recently as 10 days ago, Rosenthal publicly denied having any problems with medication to deal with pain.

At a Feb. 5 meeting with about 20 of his upper echelon administrators, Rosenthal addressed "rumors that he was addicted to painkillers" that he had heard was going around, said Julian Ramirez, a division chief.

Rosenthal said he didn't even take painkillers, Ramirez said.

Ramirez said most experienced attorneys in the office were sorry to see Rosenthal leave under these circumstances.

"Chuck tried hard to make the office a nicer place to work," Ramirez said.


What prescription drugs Rosenthal was taking -- and where he got them -- remains a mystery.

But his e-mails indicate he obtained some prescriptions from Sam Siegler, his personal physician and close friend, who is also the husband of Republican district attorney candidate Kelly Siegler.

In one e-mail last July, Rosenthal asked Sam Siegler to call in a prescription for sinus medication for Rosenthal's executive assistant, Kerry Stevens.

In a follow-up e-mail to Stevens, Rosenthal wrote that he'd spoken with one of Siegler's nurses. "I didn't feel good asking her about Ambien. Sam wasn't there," Rosenthal wrote. Ambien is a prescription sleeping pill.

Siegler did not respond to requests for comment Friday.

The removal lawsuit that Kelley filed on behalf of Erik Ibarra in state District Judge Martha Hill Jamison's court Friday did not mention prescription drugs, but alleged Rosenthal consumed alcohol at the office while performing his duties from 2001 to 2007.

The lawsuit did not cite specific instances, and Kelley would not elaborate on what evidence he had to support that claim.

I just have a funny feeling about the prescription drug claims. It's all very convenient. I don't really have any reason to doubt it, I just don't feel like I have any reason to believe anything Rosenthal says at this point. I don't suppose any of it matters any more. I'm just glad the Rosenthal era, and the Rosenthal saga, are behind us. Both are well past due. Mark Bennett, Cory, and The Professors have more.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on February 16, 2008 to Local politics

One thing he avoided was "how long" his judgement has been impaired. It has truly opened up a can of worms. That may not be easily closed.

Most people realize the only reason why he resigned was because the Attorney General was prepared to remove him and most people realize the only reason his "judgement" has been impaired is because he needs a "just in case" excuse. Just in case he is charged with perjury and possibly with obstruction of justice.

One attorney stated in the Houston Chronicle that it was a legitimate defense for perjury. I have to question that because if Chuck Rosenthal had been stopped for driving erratically it would not have been a legitimate defense. The time to realize the medication is affecting you is before you slam into a light pole. Not after.

Apparently he was taking Ambien as well. Or so he says. There are records which someone may actually subpeona. Mainly because this opened up a can of worms for Sam Siegler as well if he was prescribing for people who weren't patients or prescribing without diagnosis. I know, everyone does it. Doesn't make it legal. But if he was taking Ambien, if worse comes to worse, he may claim next he has been sleep-walking all this time. And really doesn't remember a thing at all.

I doubt it will serve as much of a defense in any case. Simply because when he admitted having committed perjury, he admitted having selectively deleted emails. That goes beyond imparied judgement. That speaks of a deliberate act. Particularly by a district attorney.

Posted by: Baby Snooks on February 17, 2008 11:14 AM
Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)