January 09, 2008
Judge Emmett speaks

Harris County Judge Ed Emmett is about to have a press conference in which he will discuss the DA's office.

WHO: Harris County Judge Ed Emmett

WHAT: News Conference

WHEN: 2 p.m., Wednesday, January 9, 2008

WHERE: Fourth Floor Media Room
Harris County Administration Building
1001 Preston
Houston, TX 77002

Harris County Judge Ed Emmett will meet with the news media this afternoon to discuss the latest developments surrounding reports of possible wrongdoing at the Harris County District Attorney's Office.

Emmett and other state and county leaders have been meeting throughout this morning to explore various options for responding to allegations of impropriety by Harris County District Attorney Chuck Rosenthal. Emmett will brief members on recent decisions and applicable state laws regarding these allegations.

I hope that by discussing "applicable state laws" that Judge Emmett will give some indication as to the question I've been asking about who should or will be investigating Rosenthal's behavior in all this. I'm not a lawyer, so I can't say with any certainty that laws have been broken here, but I think we all agree that it sure looks like they might have been. The only way to know, and to know if criminal proceedings should follow, is for there to be a formal investigation by someone who is not connected to the DA's office. Whether that's the Attorney General, a special prosecutor (appointed by whom?), or someone else, I can't say. But I hope Judge Emmett can and does.

I will say that so far, the response to this sordid little saga, from county officials as well as from other members of the Harris County Republican Party, has been very good. Yes, it's easy to kick a guy when he's down (Lord knows I'm doing it here), but one need only recall the response by Dennis Hastert and other members of the Republican Congressional leadership to the Mark Foley scandal of 2006 to see what I mean. I'll leave it to you to decide if this is a function of their character, or just the result of a hard lesson learned, but credit where it's due. As much fun as it is to make political hay, it's still vastly better to see the right thing be done.

Finally, I forgot to include a link to this Grits post in my previous entry about today's email revelations, so here it is now.

UPDATE: This Chron story answers some of my questions:

Emmett, the county judge, told KTRK Channel 13 today that he will seek to have Rosenthal removed from office if the DA can't give him an acceptable answer about how he and others in his office are spending time funded by the taxpayers.

Emmett will speak to the media a few hours after his opponent in the March 4 Republican primary, former district clerk Charles Bacarisse, said there needed to be an independent investigation of Rosenthal.

"I believe we have a situation here where laws have been broken," by Rosenthal, Bacarisse said.

Good. I hope Judge Emmett is thinking along the same lines. We'll see.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on January 09, 2008 to Scandalized!

IMO Emmett is concerned that Rosenthal will short-circuit his career too.

The question here is if the activities concerning this issue are being handled as they should without Emmett's "help" or if Emmett is using County resources for campaign purposes.

Posted by: Charles Hixon on January 9, 2008 2:23 PM

If only we had someone like Orlando to look out for the citizen's money, this wouldn't have ever happened...

Posted by: Michael on January 9, 2008 4:04 PM

What did Senor Emmett say?

Posted by: Michael on January 9, 2008 7:58 PM

Michael - See the next post for that.

Posted by: Charles Kuffner on January 9, 2008 9:59 PM