I’m declaring Chuck Rosenthal “done”.
Sure, he can hold on to his office and his salary for a while. But the Texas Attorney General has opened an investigation into Chuck’s alleged misuse of county property, and that sort of thing is seldom good for one’s career in public service. At some point soon he’s going to be the underdog, and I might even stick up for him then.
We all know he won’t be DA in a year; we don’t know whether he’ll continue to set the tone in the office for the next 11 months as he has for the last 85. We also don’t know whether what awaits him after his public service ends is (a) a cushy job with a big paycheck in a civil firm, or (b) criminal charges and eternal ignominy. (Even Chuck’s control of the Harris County DA’s secret George W. Bush file may not get him out of this jam.)
I can’t help but think that if Chuck had looked to John 8 for the answer to the question abbreviated on the “WWJD” bracelet he always wears, rather than Exodus 21 (or Romans 13), he wouldn’t be in this position today. Karma’s a bitch.
Other unresolved questions: will the Assistant DAs continue to proudly declare in voir dire that they “work for the elected DA, Chuck Rosenthal”? No, probably not; more likely, we’ll have to help them make that point. And will they tell our potential jurors who attend Lakewood Church (all 30 thousand of them) that the view of the DA’s office is that members of that church are screwballs and nuts? No, we may have to handle that part of jury selection too. And the part where we discuss racist “jokes” and sexist videos making light of violence against women. And the part where we discuss hardcore pornography sent or received at taxpayer expense. You know, just to make sure they won’t hold it against the State in this particular case.
How long will it take Harris County juries to forget the glimpse they’ve had of the hidden sleaze of the Harris County DA’s office? Kelly Siegler is a hell of a trial lawyer. As I’ve written before, she stands out as a prosecutor in part because she exhibits the kind of creativity in the courtroom that defenders use every day. (Of course, prosecutors aren’t necessarily ethically permitted to exhibit the kind of creativity in the courtroom that defenders use every day, but that’s what the voters like to see.)
I don’t know what kind of administrator she will be. But Kelly Siegler is a member of Chuck Rosenthal’s inner circle, and if she is elected DA we can expect her to carry on Chuck’s legacy. If we’re looking for a DA who will continue the derailment of the DA’s office, Kelly is probably the best bet for the job.
Will the citizens of Harris County forgive Kelly her close relationship with Chuck enough to let her keep her job and take her own shot at the reputation of the office? (I wish I could find a link to the picture of her announcing her candidacy, backed up by 25 very worried-looking ADAs. Harris County has some 300 DAs, so an office insider with the active support of 25 of them is not making a very impressive showing.)
Or will they give the job to one of the outsiders who, in Kelly’s words, “don’t know where the restrooms are in the office“?