Bye, Bye Chuck Rosenthal, Houston D.A.

Harris County, Texas (Houston) has the highest execution rate in Texas. If it were a state, it would have the the second highest execution rate in the nation.

Harris County District Attorney Chuck Rosenthal resigned amidst a personal conduct scandal yesterday. Bye, Bye Chuck.

As TChris wrote here last month:

There are many good reasons to believe that Chuck Rosenthal should not be the district attorney in Harris County, Texas ... or anywhere else. He leads the nation in his aggressive use of the death penalty and refused to change that stance in the face of evidence that the Houston crime lab was falsifying data. When a grand jury asked Rosenthal to recuse himself from the investigation of that scandal on the ground that he was up to his neck in it, he declined. He defended his office's reliance on false testimony to support a conviction although he had the good grace to apologize for one of the many wrongful convictions for which his office is responsible.

Voters like Rosenthal because of his image as a "tough prosecutor" -- they apparently think it's more important to look tough than to be right, or fair. It may not be Rosenthal's official actions, but his racist emails, that finally bring him down.

There's also his incredibly racist e-mails: [More...]

Again, from TChris:

One of the messages was a racial joke about President Bill Clinton, attributed to a Canadian TV show, forwarded by Chuck Rosenthal to his friend Dr. Sam Siegler.

"The closest thing we ever had to having a black man as president," the e-mail read. "Number 1 - He played the sax. Number 2 - He smoked weed. Number 3 - He had his way with ugly white women. Even now? Look at him… his wife works, and he doesn't! And, he gets a check from the government each month."

Here's another:

In addition to a racial joke about President Clinton that characterizes African-Americans as unemployed drug users, Rosenthal also e-mailed a picture showing a black man on the ground surrounded by fried chicken and watermelon. The caption read "fatal overdose."

Ten days ago, it was a different story:

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

Chuck Rosenthal resigned yesterday, blaming his problems on prescription drugs.

During Rosenthal's tenure as D.A., 36 defendants ended up on death row.

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    T Chris left out (none / 0) (#1)
    by sef on Sat Feb 16, 2008 at 11:32:02 AM EST
    that Chuckie was just as much a misogynist as he is a racist.  The racism was just more publicized.

    The defense bar in Houston is ecstatic.  

    I should note that the term "Canadian" in Chuckie's office referred usually to people of color, usually black.  The term Canadian was esp. used, apparently, as short hand as to how to get away with striking black prospective jurors or having to explain why a person of color was left on a jury to one's superiors.

    Impairment of Judgment (none / 0) (#2)
    by Peter G on Sat Feb 16, 2008 at 11:52:58 AM EST
    Courts routinely give enormous deference to the exercise of "prosecutorial discretion."  When the Chief DA says "a combination of prescription drugs had 'caused some impairment in my judgment,'" doesn't he call into question all sorts of charging decisions and sentencing recommendations he has made or approved, including the decision to seek the death penalty in any given murder case?  I'm also curious whether he considers "impairment in ... judgment" due to the voluntary use of mind-altering drugs to be a mitigating factor in judging the misconduct of any but himself.

    Rosenthal (none / 0) (#3)
    by auntmo on Sat Feb 16, 2008 at 11:58:02 AM EST
    I'm  in  Harris  County.  

    There  was   a  GREAT  sigh of  relief, even from  Republicans, when  the local  news  announced  his   resignation.    

    He  tried  to fight  it,  but  his  own fellow  Repubs   told him it  was  "time  to go."  

    Adios,  Chuckie.

    Good riddance! (none / 0) (#4)
    by caramel on Sat Feb 16, 2008 at 12:00:34 PM EST
    But watch  out for who is going to replace him because it's not going to get any better soon in Harris County!

    last night i was watching the news. (none / 0) (#5)
    by hellothere on Sat Feb 16, 2008 at 01:11:24 PM EST
    channel 2 i think!anyway they put all FOUR repub candidates on and then said with a smirk that the viwer could go to their web site to see the democratic nominee. geez!

    i didn't know there was a (none / 0) (#6)
    by cpinva on Sat Feb 16, 2008 at 03:45:27 PM EST
    prescription drug that renders the user stupid?

    you know texans like their executions, and they do everything BIG in texas, except think.