The Supremes will be hearing a case brought by a Death Row inmate from the death capitol of the USA–Texas. Texas cherishes the unborn. Once you’re born you better learn to duck. Well, that’s a topic for future posts.
Anyway, today’s New York Times has an article about the case. The judge who sentenced Charles Hood had been involved in a sexual affair with the prosecuting attorney. Hood argues that the judge might not have been totally impartial.
Charles Dean Hood was sentenced to death in 1990 by a Texas judge who had been sleeping with the prosecutor in his case. It took Mr. Hood almost 20 years to establish that fact.
But he finally managed to force the two officials to testify about their rumored affair in the fall of 2008. They admitted it.
Maybe Judge Verla Sue Holland should apologize to Charles Hood, to Texas, to the United States, and to Blind Justice and then join a nunnery if the nuns would have her. But she doesn’t see it that way. She points out that Mr. Hood’s defense lawyers could have done better.
Whatever the precise contours and intensity of the affair, Judge Holland did testify that she would have disqualified herself from Mr. Hood’s case had his lawyers asked. But she also said she and Mr. O’Connell had kept their extramarital affair secret.
I’m only a nurse, and I don’t know anything about the technicalities of trial procedure. Maybe there’s an item on the checklist where the defense attorney is supposed to ask the judge if they might be boinking, or have ever boinked, the prosecuting attorney. And then the judge complements the defense lawyer on their astuteness and says,
“Yes, by the way, I did happen to have a sordid and extremely tacky extramarital affair with the prosecution. Are you concerned that I might not be able to be impartial? Let me then recuse myself, and refer this trial to a judge who is not intimate with anyone in the prosecution.”
So let’s blame the condemned for missing the chance to clear things up at the beginning.
Judge Holland feels that she has been treated very badly. She defends herself in language that… Well, the motto of the New York Times is ‘All the News That’s Fit to Print’. The following is pasted from the Times. I shall excerpt it without comment.
In her deposition, Judge Holland said she had lately become angry with Mr. Hood’s lawyers for “annihilating my reputation.” She said she had asked the attorney general’s office to represent her in Mr. Hood’s challenge to her conduct because she thought she needed to fight back. She was “tired of laying over,” she said, and “getting licked without any input.”
Stop giggling, you!
This is actually appalling. Here’s the Texas district attorney’s legal reasoning for letting the conviction stand…
Mr. Hood was convicted of murdering a couple he had been living with, Ronald Williamson and Tracie Lynn Wallace, in Plano, Tex., in 1989.
The district attorney in Collin County, John R. Roach, has said that the case should not be reopened in light of the gravity of those crimes and Mr. Hood’s delay in pursuing rumors of the affair. Mr. Roach added that there was no need for a categorical rule against a little romance.
So, in other words, the awfulness of the crime justifies the awfulness of the trial. And ‘a little romance’ between the judge and the prosecution is no different from a couple of high school kids at the Prom. Well, actually, the kids would have no hope of mercy from Texas morality. They’re nobody.
So two people were murdered. And it’s very possible that Charles Dean Hood is guilty of the crime. But with a judge and lawyers so corrupt, and the Texas legal establishment saying that this is how it’s supposed to be, how is it possible to have a fair trial?
I hope the Supremes will forget politics and rule for decency, impartiality, professionalism, and the right to be presumed innocent.
Ronald Williamson and Tracie Wallace were brutally murdered. They are mostly forgotten in this soap opera. Whether justice will be done, or their deaths be unpunished is uncertain. The people trusted to administer justice seem to have no sense of shame.