Pages

Monday, April 19, 2010

Supreme Court Rejects Appeal by Charles Dean Hood in Case of Prosecutor and Judge Making Beast With Two Backs

From Bloomberg:

By Greg Stohr
April 19 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. Supreme Court rejected an appeal from a convicted double murderer who said his Texas trial was tainted because the judge and prosecutor previously had a sexual relationship.
The justices today left intact a Texas appeals court’s refusal to reopen Charles Dean Hood’s case.
Hood, 40, contended that the affair between Judge Verla Sue Holland and Thomas S. O’Connell Jr. had cast a “deep shadow” over the Texas criminal justice system and violated his constitutional rights. Dozens of ethicists and former judges, state officials and prosecutors -- including former FBI Director William S. Sessions -- urged the court to take up the case.
“We believe his case was marred by a fundamental misjustice,” said Andrea Keilen, the director of the Texas Defender Service, which represents Hood. She said in a statement that she was “disheartened” by the rejection.
Hood was convicted in 1990 of killing his boss and his boss’s girlfriend in the house the three shared. His lawyers say they didn’t have firm evidence of the long-rumored affair until 2008, shortly before he was scheduled to be executed.
Collin County Criminal District Attorney John R. Roach said that Hood’s lawyers had reason to suspect the affair years earlier and that they waited too long to raise the issue in court. Roach argued that Hood had previously filed seven so- called habeas corpus petitions seeking to overturn his conviction.
The issue “should have been raised, addressed and resolved many years ago,” Roach argued.
Holland and O’Connell eventually testified that they were involved in a relationship for several years in the 1980s and had been in love with one another. Both were married.
A Texas court threw out Hood’s death sentence on unrelated grounds earlier this year.
The case is Hood v. Texas, 09-8610.
--Editors: Jim Rubin, Laurie Asseo.


In case you missed the reference in the post title, here is the quote from Shakespeare.
Othello. Act 1, Scene 1.
BRABANTIO

    What profane wretch art thou?

IAGO

    I am one, sir, that comes to tell you your daughter
    and the Moor are now making the beast with two backs.

BRABANTIO

    Thou art a villain.

IAGO

    You are--a senator.

BRABANTIO

    This thou shalt answer; I know thee, Roderigo. 
More from the Austin American-Statesman:
Last February, however, the Texas court threw out Hood’s death sentence on an unrelated issue — flawed jury instructions — while keeping intact his conviction in the 1989 shooting deaths of two people in Plano.
None of the appeals claimed Hood was innocent, only that his trial or conviction violated the U.S. Constitution.
The Collin County District Attorney’s Office had no comment Monday, but officials said earlier that they were likely to seek the death penalty during Hood’s new punishment trial.
Though they disagreed on the dates, former District Judge Verla Sue Holland and Thomas O’Connell Jr., the former Collin County district attorney who prosecuted Hood, testified that their affair lasted about five years.
Holland, who would later serve on the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals with eight of the nine current judges, recalled their relationship beginning in late 1982, O’Connell in 1984 or 1985. Both testified that they were married at the time and took pains to keep the relationship secret, limiting sexual encounters to each other’s homes when their spouses were away.
Both also had different recollections of when the relationship ended. Holland said the romantic meetings stopped in 1987, O’Connell in mid-1989 or later. Both testified that they remained good friends long afterward, taking several joint trips in 1991. Hood was tried in Holland’s court in 1990.
Hood’s case prompted 30 top legal ethicists and 21 former judges and prosecutors from across the country to file briefs urging the Supreme Court to grant a new trial because the affair undermined public trust in the law, violated the “bedrock principle” that judges must avoid conflicts of interest and tainted the results of Hood’s legal proceedings.

Sphere: Related Content

No comments: