Thursday, September 18, 2008
Did Judge Verla Sue Holland Have Love Stains on Her Chin From District Attorney Thomas O'Connell While Trying Charles Dean Hood For Murder?
How many times in the middle of a heated trial has one party questioned the judge's rulings under their breath?
Imaginary Defendant: "I can't believe it. They are winning every objection! That opposing lawyer must be sleeping with the judge. LOL. "
Well, maybe it is not so funny. In fact, it may be darn right alarming if true. A former judge and an ex-Texas prosecutor are being accused of an alleged sexual affair which may have affected some cases which they tried together. For example, Charles Dean Hood received the death penalty for killing a 26 year old topless dancer and her 46 year old boyfriend in Plano, Texas in 1990. Hood's lawyers are arguing former Judge Verla Sue Holland was biased because of her alleged sexual relationship with ex-Collin County District Attorney Thomas O'Connell.
Hood's claim that the judge and prosecutor having a sexual relationship "would have had a significant impact on the ability of the judicial system to accord Mr. Hood a fair and impartial trial." Hood is no longer on the bench. But in the interest of justice, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals will reconsider the appropriateness of jury instructions given in Hood's trial. In the mean time, the 1990 affair has apparently may have halted Hood's execution. See: Affair halts execution?
The canons of ethics mandate avoidance of the appearance of impropriety. Former assistant district attorney Matthew Goeller provided affidavit testimony that it was "common knowledge" that the judge and prosecutor "had a romantic relationship" during the time Hood was tried in 1990. Neither Holland nor O'Connell have been disciplined by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct or the State Bar of Texas. Because of this appearance of partiality (even if it did not exist) a new trial for Hood is likely.
Update 9-18-09 Technically, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals postponed Charles Dean Hood's execution because it wanted to reconsider whether the jury instructions were flawed.
The appellate court generally dismissed claims by Hood's attorneys that the trial was not fair because of the relationship between Judge Verla Sue Holland and former Collin County District Attorney Tom O'Connell.