I don’t know how else to characterize this latest atrocity from the biggest joke in Texas, the Court of Criminal Appeals.
The question of whether a romantic relationship between a judge and prosecutor is unfair won’t be decided by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.
The issue in the capital case of Charles Dean Hood roiled the legal community last summer, but the Court ruled Wednesday it would not consider the issue because defense attorneys did not raise it initially.
Defense attorney David Dow called the decision by Texas’ highest criminal court “gutless.”
“The question of whether there is a fundamental taint to this trial is, at this point, going to be decided by a federal court — if it’s going to be decided by any court at all — because what the state court has said is, ‘We don’t care,’” said Dow, litigation director for the Texas Defender Service.
The Court denied Hood the right to pursue his claim that he did not receive a fair trial because Judge Verla Sue Holland and then district attorney Tom O’Connell were romantically involved.
Hood’s previous filings in the case had not raised the issue and the Court dismissed Hood’s application as an abuse.
Dow said he was stunned by the ruling. When the Court denied a stay on the issue last year, “it denied a stay because it said ‘There’s no proof. Come back to us when you have some proof.’”
The service came back with that proof — acknowledgment from the two principals that an affair had occurred, “And what do they say?” Dow asked. “‘Tough, you lose anyway.”
The ruling came despite the fact that District Judge Greg Brewer had recommended Hood be allowed to pursue the claim, going so far as to say the state’s “hands are unclean.”
You can read more about the case here. I have to say, I disagree with Dow – I think what the CCA did here was bold. Usually, they rule in favor of screwing the defense. Here, they ruled in favor of screwing the prosecution. You have to admire that.
Credit where it’s due:
Court of Criminal Appeals Judge Cathy Cochran filed a dissenting opinion in the case, in which Judge Tom Price and Judge Charles Holcomb joined. Cochran wrote that she would accept Brewer’s findings and allow Hood to pursue the claim.
Kudos to these three judges for their integrity. The other six, and yes of course that includes Sharon Keller, aren’t worth a damn. Grits has more.