. . . Gone!

Chuck Rosenthal has resigned, effective 3 p.m. today.

In his letter of resignation he writes:

Today, I wrote Governor Perry and tendered my resignation as Harris County District Attorney.

My decision to retire from office was precipitated by a number of things.

The federal court’s release of my private emails around Christmas of last year brought a lot to bear on my wife and children. I have been trying to restore my family as a unit, but the constant media pressure has made that restoration more difficult. I am hopeful that, in my retirement, the media will accord my family the privacy we need to heal.

Although I have enjoyed excellent medical and pharmacological treatment, I have come to learn that the particular combination of drugs prescribed for me in the past has caused some impairment in my judgment.

How does the “impaired judgment” story affect Chuck’s potential perjury / obstruction of justice / tampering with evidence charges? I don’t think “the drugs made me do it” is a legal defense to any of these charges, but I don’t see anyone who believes the story being gung-ho to prosecute Chuck for obstructive conduct that was a result of his impairment.

Dr. Sam Siegler has been described as Chuck’s personal physician; from the emails released back in January it appears that Dr. Siegler’s office was Chuck’s go-to source for prescription meds.

Who prescribed the drugs that impaired Chuck’s judgment? Dr. Sam Siegler?

Who is Dr. Siegler married to? Kelly Siegler.

Whose position is Kelly now running for? Chuck’s.

Cozy, no?

Did Chuck’s impairment escape the notice of those who worked with him at the DA’s Office? If you realized that he was impaired, why didn’t you speak up? If you realized it and didn’t comment, or didn’t realize it, what does that say about your judgment?

The DA’s judgment is everything. The job of DA is about nothing but judgment. For the past eight years Chuck Rosenthal has been the guy with his finger on the metaphorical button, which in his case is a plunger on a syringe full of pancuronium bromide and potassium chloride. Chuck has made decisions that have cost people their freedom and their lives. Do those people get do-overs now that Chuck claims his judgment was impaired?

The resignation letter continues:

The Texas Attorney General’s office has informed my attorney that they will not proceed with a removal action if I resign. Without commenting on the merits of any case the Attorney General may have pursued, to have yet another controversy surround this office is intolerable to me.

Of course the AG wouldn’t proceed with a removal action if Chuck resigned. Does Chuck’s inclusion of this paragraph mean that the AG had informed Chuck’s attorney that he would proceed with a removal action if Chuck did not resign?

Chuck closes his letter with praise for the ADAs:

I am extremely proud of the work that the ladies and gentlemen of this office do for the citizens of Harris County. They have too many cases, are under compensated, and are often unfairly criticized for the hard decisions they make in fulfilling their mandate to see that justice is done.

The residents of Harris County need to appreciate the great work these folks do. As the saying goes, “If I were asked to lead a charge on Hell, I’d want these people in my ranks.”

I expect those ADAs’ response will be something along the lines of “gee, thanks.” Until six weeks ago, they would all probably have followed Chuck on his charge into Hell; most of them now feel like, in the past five weeks, they have.

The big political question now: who gets appointed DA until next January?

If the governor is a pure political hack he’ll anoint one of the Republican nominees — HCRP favorite Lykos or, if Chuck cut a deal before resigning, Siegler. Otherwise he appoints someone who is not already running for the office or leave it in the hands of First Assistant Bert Graham for the next 11 months.

0 responses to “. . . Gone!”

  1. Mark,
    One of things you have to realize about Chuck was the he was never exactly “personality plus” in the first place. I have heard that just two weeks ago, he addressed the rumors of his alleged prescription medicine problems during his weekly staff meeting and flatly denied them. Today’s resignation letter would seem to indicate the contrary. Short of an ADA going into his Office and demanding a urine sample, I don’t know what else they could have done.
    I believe that if the Governor is even mildly mindful of the situation that he will at least wait until after March 4th before appointing a temporary replacement. I doubt that Bert will be the one to manage the office for the remaining 10 1/2 months (although Bert is certainly capable of it).
    We shall see. Predicting at this point would be like trying to predict who will win the 2010 Super Bowl.

  2. Ditto AHCL. I never had an occasion to meet with Chuck where I thought he might be under the influence of something. Chuck was a man of few words and I was never sure I knew what he was thinking.

    I would expect the governor to wait and appoint the winner of the GOP primary. This could mean big changes before anyone expected.

    BTW, my money’s on the Texans in 2010.

  3. I believe Mr. Rosenthal is still lying. His impairment may have been exacerbated by drugs, but it was primarily caused by alcohol. Chuck has a drinking problem and admits as much in an e-mail to his “secretary” when he says to her “I’ve fallen off the wagon.” Granted, whatever the reason for his impaired judgement, one can’t help but feel sympathy for an addict who still suffers. And while it is a good thing that Chuck has chosen to resign, his resignation alone is not sufficient to solve the problems that still exist at the D.A.’s office.

    Lawyers like Kelly Seigler, Mike Trent and Rob Freyer must be rooted out as well. Racial intolerance and discrimination of any kind have to end if the Harris County D.A.’s office ever expects to regain the confidence and respect of the community. Until then, I suspect the community pressure on the office will not subside.

  4. Murf,

    “Rooted out”, you say?

    Is that so? Any real evidence to back up those seemingly flippant remarks?

    Or are you just in the business of accusing people of being racists for fun?

    Do tell.

  5. Mark,
    Some of your post was really beneath you. Are you implying that Chuck was the victim of a plot by Kelly to get her husband to addict him to drugs? Come on.
    I think the drug statement in his resignation was a little strange, but give the man credit for 30+ years of doing something he believed in–even if you disagree with him on a lot of points. This is a sad time, not a chance to dance on his grave.
    The smart thing for Perry to do would be to appoint a caretaker DA from the ranks of retired prosecutor’s or judges and let Bert handle the day to day things. The political thing to do would be to appoint either Lycos as the annointed of the Harris County party or the winner of the primary. The questions is, who would want the glare of the spotlight?

  6. Worldisgray,

    I think it as likely that Chuck was not in fact impaired because of prescription meds, and that the allegation was a backhanded shot at Kelly through her husband.

    Justice works in strange and mysterious ways; I hope you’ll forgive certain members of the criminal defense bar their moment of schadenfreude.

    I agree with you on what would be smart, and what political for Gov. Perry to do. No idea whether he’ll be smart or political.

  7. Guy guys

    Mark – remember compassion for everyone.

    AHCL – Putting people in jail doesn’t make one good. Erasing emails doesn’t make one evil.

    I understand Mark’s schadenfreude because Chuck tightly “wrapped himself in the flag.”

    The question is just how much Chuck’s influence corrupted the culture at the DA’s office and whether that will be changed by a head transplant.

  8. My comments are not “flippant” anonymous, they’re quite serious. Kelly Seigler striking a man from a Jury for the sole reason that he’s black is racist. Mr. Trent and Mr. Freyer engaging in e-mail discussions that refer to African Americans as “canadians” is racist. Understand, racists don’t go around trumpeting that fact. They obfuscate and lie to hide their propensity toward discrimination and intolerance. When caught engaging in their racist acts, they often attempt to ascribe race neutral reasons for their blatantly racist actions (as was the case for both Kelly Seigler and Mike Trent).

    Ignoring the obvious won’t correct the problem. In fact, it would be interesting to see if there’s a pattern of discrimination at the D.A.’s office that reveals itself in disproportionately higher plea recommendations for blacks and hispanics. My suspicion is that minorities are punished much more frequently and severely than white defendants. To sum up, anonymous, I don’t think calling someone a racist is fun. I just happen to think being the victim of institutional racism is worse.

  9. Murf, good post. If you want to see “flippant,” stroll over to AHCL’s blog and notice that Rob Freyer won his “division” in AHCL’s poll for most unsung prosecutor. When you keep in mind that AHCL’s blog is mostly frequented by Harris County prosecutors and that these were the people voting in his/her poll, it is very revealing (and sad). It looks like the problem of racism is so entrenched within the office that much more than Chuck’s absence will be needed to root it out.

    The biggest problem is that these prosecutors do not understand racism. When somebody like Freyer is called a racist as a result of this incident, their mind flashes to something overt like a Ku Klux Klan member. Since Freyer is not going around the office openly advocating for segregation or lynching blacks–indeed, because he may even be on friendly terms with a black prosecutor or two or even went out of his way to help a racial minority or two–he simply cannot be racist.

    This, of course, could not be further from the truth. Freyer is the embodiment of modern, invidious racism and is precisely what perpetuates the institutional racism that continues to drive racial disparities in any socioeconomic statistic one could conjure up. Whether he has any conscious hatred for racial minorities or not, he nonetheless advances the cause of white supremacism.

    And I suspect Freyer–and people like him–do not have any conscious hatred for racial minorities across the board. Indeed, I would imagine they can (and do) get along quite well with professional, white collar racial minorities. (This is why his defenders will say that he simply can’t be racist.)

    The problem enters when these people are faced with two defendants, one poor and white, the other poor and black. The latter will be feared–likely subconsciously–while the former will not be. The latter will also generate all kinds of assumptions about which citizens are best to judge the defendant.

    This kind of phenomenon will not be limited to the Freyers of the world. But what we need–and what Freyer obviously lacks by virtue of his disparaging remarks regarding even black, law-abiding jurors–is an awareness of our implicit preferences (or at least that we make such implicit associations). This requires not just a lack of conscious enmity towards racial minorities but an affirmative awareness of institutional racism and a desire to be especially vigilant against it. This the Harris County DAs office lacks entirely (and indeed, I presume the office would openly mock such a concept), as evidenced by the email stating the office completely disregards its policy regarding diversity in employment. So it’s time for a complete overhaul and a new political outlook.

  10. Hey, Murf? There are a couple of problems with your mini-manifesto.

    1. ‚ÄúKelly Seigler striking a man from a Jury for the sole reason that he’s black is racist.‚Äù

    That is false.

    2. ‚ÄúMr. Trent and Mr. Freyer engaging in e-mail discussions that refer to African Americans as “canadians” is racist.‚Äù

    That is false.

    Now, you obviously anticipated that, so you threw in your next lines…

    3. ‚ÄúUnderstand, racists don’t go around trumpeting that fact. They obfuscate and lie to hide their propensity toward discrimination and intolerance. When caught engaging in their racist acts, they often attempt to ascribe race neutral reasons for their blatantly racist actions (as was the case for both Kelly Seigler and Mike Trent).‚Äù

    Let me get this straight, Murf! What you are saying is that the three people that you’ve blithely thrown under the bus have no possibility of a defense. You warn, like Screwtape, that we must be mindful because they just might possibly protest to the label and insist that their actions were not racist, but that we must not believe them because racists always deny it.

    Do you hear how illogical that is?
    But that‚Äôs how the racist label is thrown around, isn’t it? With gleeful ignorance veiled in somewhat gussied-up language!

    If you and PJ are so sure that these people are “racists”, why don’t you quit with the circular, nebulous language and get to the facts?

    Let’s play school-yard rules: Prove your accusations, if you can, or take them back.

    I have a sneaking suspicion that you won’t want to talk facts and will instead both come back with something akin to “They are because we say they are”.

    Let’s see.

  11. You kids play nice.

    Being impaired by prescription drugs would suck. Feeling that you have to falsely claim to have been impaired by prescription drugs in order to avoid jail would suck too. More than once I’ve had clients with similar stories get no compassion from Chuck Rosenthal’s DA’s office; nevertheless I have great compassion for Chuck. I believe it’s possible that we might be seeing the invisible hand of inevitable universal justice at work here.

    Anonymous C is right about the difficulty of facing a charge of racism. Insidious racism is as hard to disprove as it is to prove. I don’t know what we do about that.

    I do know that prosecutors’ stated rationale (when they state a rationale) for striking black jurors — that black jurors and their loved ones are more likely than whites to have suffered so much at the hands of the system that they couldn’t possibly give the State a fair shake — is probably true but still a bad reason to effectively perpetuate the racism of a historically-racist system.

  12. Okay, so, per usual, P.J.’s got nothin’, but bluster.

    What about you, Murf? Can you offer up any proof at all to back up your accusations?

    Mark, you’re absolutely right, but shouldn’t the burden be on the one making the accusation to prove it? Not the other way around?

    I’m no lawyer, but it just seems fundamentally wrong that people like Murf and P.J. get to sit on their metaphorical park benches and fling “racist” at the passers–by without being held accountable.

  13. PJ,
    I’m curious if you know Rob Freyer personally, or if you are just basing your opinions of him on the things you’ve heard in the media.
    It would seem to me that the people voting for him on my website know him personally. I would suppose that the strong support for him would be some backlash against the way he’s been portrayed in the media and on the web. Perhaps the people who really know him are telling us something.
    Kelly wasn’t an option on the poll by my own rules, but I can’t help notice that Mike Trent’s name (nor Chuck’s for that matter) popped up.
    I’m not saying that to blast Mike or Chuck, but I think it’s worth noting about Rob.
    Just a thought.

  14. Anonymous,

    Your saying a thing is false does not make it false, it just makes it your opinion. The record of Ms. Seigler’s deeds is a matter of fact. That she denies what is incontrovertible in the written record or that you have not, apparently, read the record makes your opinion both ill-founded and wrong. With respect to the “canadian” language, if you refuse to acknowledge the racism blatantly apparent in that type of reference to blacks, there’s not much else I can say. You may not be a lawyer, but I’m sure you’ve heard of the concept of “circumstantial” evidence. Here, we have both. Direct evidence in the form of the Trent\Freyer e-mail and circumstantial in the form of the written record in the Seigler case.

  15. AHCL

    PJ would agree that those who know Freyer wouldn’t think he’s a racist.

    It’s really a question of definition. We’d all agree the KKK person who openly spouts hatred is racist. Am I racist? Well, I’ll keep my eye on the black guy with the cap and baggy pants on a dark street.

    However, I am aware that I’m doing that and know that it may not be fair to someone who could be as nice as anyone else I’m likely to meet.

  16. Murf,

    Okay, Siegler struck a black juror. So, is that your only “proof” for calling her a racist? If so, how do you explain the fact that she accepted three other black jurors during that same jury selection, two of which ultimately served on the jury?

    As for Freyer, he did refer to the hold-outs on the jury as “Canadians”. But, guess what? The hold-outs weren’t African-Americans.

    What now?

  17. Mark,

    I’m playing as nice as I can in light of the seriousness of the issue.


    I do not doubt that Freyer can be seen as a “good” person by people who interact with him on a day-to-day basis. He probably more or less is, despite his shortcomings with respect to a very fundamental race question. Indeed, despite all the blood that a person like President Bush has on his hands, I have little doubt that he’s a “good” guy in person too. I’m sure both are real friendly, and would even, for example, stop to help out a stranded motorist on the side of the road who was black. These kinds of things, however, do not mean there are not problems with people like them holding positions of power.

    What Freyer definitively is not is somebody to be held up as a standard-bearer. However good of a prosecutor Freyer may be from the skewed political outlook of securing convictions or however good a person Freyer may be from the skewed personal perspective of how he treats individuals in discrete instances and isolated contexts, he and his prosecutorial mold are not to be emulated or perpetuated. I don’t ever want to hear a prosecutor brag about a conviction despite blacks being on a jury. It is absolutely unacceptable and reflects an attitude, however subconsciously held, that may not be trusted to hold public positions of power over other people’s lives.

    And if it isn’t Freyer, it’s Trent (although it could be both). But the murkiness results only from the failure of the office to do the right thing at the time and (1) get to the bottom of the situation and (2) fire whomever should have been fired. (You will reply that the office did “get to the bottom of it” at the time, but it clearly did not do so credibly.) Again, this is a political failure and this is why we need a whole new political outlook in the office.

    Anonymous c,

    I expressly disclaimed that somebody like Freyer likely has any conscious animus towards racial minorities across the board. I do imagine, however, that he–and probably most in the office–consciously detests as a class the poor defendants who come before them, the young black ones likely subconsciously more so. In fact, I am sure it is common that they speak of them quite derogatively and dehumanizingly (if I may make up a word).

    Last, I find your notion of “accountability” highly ironic and unworthy of further comment. Let’s start at the top and work our way down, okay? Fealty to power is unbecoming.

  18. “Indeed, despite all the blood that a person like President Bush has on his hands, I have little doubt that he’s a “good” guy in person too.”

    Careful, P.J.! Your agenda is showing.

    ‚ÄúLet’s start at the top and work our way down, okay? Fealty to power is unbecoming.‚Äù

    Sigh. Yes, let’s start at the top, which is where you accused Freyer of being a racist. I ask again, any proof?

    Or are you really just on a political crusade?

  19. Ron and PJ,
    I guess my fundamental problem with your writings is that you seem to find it okay for a person to be labeled as a racist, but then you expressly close the door to listening to any reasoning that he or she is not.
    Maybe I’m missing something here, but it seems you guys are both saying “Well, I’m sure that you and every person who knows Mr. Freyer don’t think he’s a racist because he isn’t open about it, but you will need to trust us when we say that he is”.
    I’m not trying to give you a hard time, but I said a long time ago in one of my posts that the thing about racism was that once the allegation had been made, there was no removing the taint of that.
    I find that to be very distressing.
    And PJ, you still never answered the question of whether or not you know him personally.

  20. Anonymous C,

    I fear you are the victim of a kind of social Stockholm syndrome, in which you submit to the whims of power regardless of how harmful it is to you and your society. Critical thinking, rational inference and deduction, and common sense have been determined to be impotent in the face of this disorder. Unfortunately, there is no known cure, and I fear I am unable to help you. Good luck.


    I do not know Freyer personally; however, my very point is that I don’t need to. His use of a derogative term to describe people he does not know and who in fact did his bidding is sufficient. Acceptance of any innocent explanation would require a naivete well beyond my years and experience.

    (Incidentally, knowing somebody personally tends to increase one’s willingness to accept incredible and irrational explanations; indeed, we see this every day in the criminal justice system in which mothers of young defendants readily accept all manner of explanations from their children about why they did whatever heinous thing they did and wish that prosecutors would just see it their way. “If they only knew my son the way I do, then they would see…”. What is Freyer’s reaction to such pleas of perspective I wonder?)

    You seem to be completely forgetting that we have evidence that lends itself only to one credible explanation, and it isn’t favorable to Freyer/Trent or the entire Harris County DA’s office that declined to do what needed to be done about it and now is apparently rushing headlong to honor said behavior by threatening to name said actor best unsung prosecutor (however informally). It is far from encouraging.

    It’s time for district attorneys to take a firm stand against institutional racism. Anything less is unacceptable.

  21. PJ,

    Debating with you is akin to shouting into a vortex. Futile. You’re saying a lot of words, but you’re just not making a lot of sense. That diatribe about the “Stockholm syndrome” was inane.

    Let me speak very plainly for you, PJ. I’m assuming (correct me if I’m wrong) that the evidence of which you speak, in your points to AHCL, is the “Canadian” e-mail. I suppose that you missed my comments to “Murf” above? The term “Canadians” was in reference to the hold-outs, as the e-mail clearly indicated. If you do some minor research, you will soon discover that the hold-outs on that jury were not African-American, but were, in fact, Caucasian. Therefore, the term “Canadian” could not possibly have been a racial slur.

    Since you also say that you don’t know Rob Freyer personally, then, quite honestly, you have no justification to label him a racist.

    Is that clear enough for you?

  22. Anonymous c,

    Because if there is anything at all that I am known for, it is my inability to resist trying to show people the light, I will spell it out for you.

    Fact 1: Jury hold outs have never in the history of the world been referred to as Canadians. (By the way, there is no hyperbole in that fact. It has never once happened.)

    Fact 2: There is a tradition of blacks being referred to derogatively as Canadians. It appears to have started in the restaurant industry and was a way for the waitstaff to talk about black patrons without raising suspicion. Exhibit A is this unedited comment from a random interneter that turns up from a Google search of “Canadians bad tippers”: “why do you suppose THAT would be ASSWIPE??? have you ever waited tables??? If you had, then you’d KNOW that BLACKS are horrible tippers. the IRONY is that when blacks are waiters/waitresses, they are the worst at service, but they expect perfection when they are sitting in the customer chair. Mathetes, you’re a fucking pussy, dude. You need to call it like it IS. use of the term ‘Canadian’ is so white people can actually have a discussion without some thin-skinned NEGRO getting all bent out of shape, which doesn’t take much…as a general rule. I am not speaking, of course, about ALL blacks.”

    (Of course he’s not speaking about all blacks! Just the ones he prejudges! And notice this turned up without either “black” or “code” even being in the search string.)

    Fact 3: There were blacks on the jury of the identified case.

    Fact 4: Trent’s story is not that he believed Freyer was referring to hold out jurors (as he surely would if it were so obvious a term for such jurors) but that he thought Freyer meant it literally, as in Canadian citizens! (This is also, of course, laughably incredible.)

    Fact 5: There is no reference in the email to any hold outs on the jury. The email says the verdict was despite Canadians being on the jury, not that any Canadians were holding out.

    Is the haze beginning to clear yet?

  23. PJ writes:

    “I don’t ever want to hear a prosecutor brag about a conviction despite blacks being on a jury.”

    For the umpteenth time, since the Chronicle refuses to run Rob’s written email from 2003, and since you clearly are selectively reading the responses of people who actually know Rob and witnessed the events as they happened in ’03 – Rob referred to a couple of weak jurors, who were holding out against a conviction, as canadians – the hold outs WERE NOT blacks. The black jurors were in favor of convicting, and actually swayed the hold outs. If Rob were the racist you so readily want him to be, why would he even let blacks on the jury at all?

    PJ writes:

    “I do not know Freyer personally; however, my very point is that I don’t need to.”

    So, you are passing judgment on him without knowing anything about him at all? I guess your treatment of Rob is not racist, since Rob isn’t his own race. But I hardly see how making assumptions about him is any more justifiable or any less offensive than when a racist does the same thing. Please, explain why you are morally justified in doing this, in light of your position that this very conduct is reprehensible? I’m dying to hear it.

    Oh, wait, you kinda did explain your logic. People who know someone are more likely to accept their offensive behavior. So, in your world, the people who are the best judge of whether an injustice has occurred, are the ones who don’t know anything about the specifics of the case. RIGHT.

    Would your opinion of Rob’s intrinsic racism change if you knew that he has represented minorities who were victims far more often than whites? Murder victims, rape victims, robbery victims. Or will that fact be selectively eliminated from your math, since it causes the answer to change from a negative to a positive result?

  24. Hi pro.victims,

    You were undoubtedly constructing your post at the time my last one was posted and thus didn’t get the benefit of it. So I’ll skip to some unaddressed points.

    First, you suggest I have prejudged Freyer. What you, like AHCL, are neglecting is that I am not doing anything of the sort. There is evidence here. I did not just see Freyer walking down the street and draw certain conclusions about him (as he did with the “Canadians” on his jury).

    Second, you argue that the best people to judge are those who know the accused best. Ask any prosecutor if they want a jury full of the defendant’s friends and family and let me know what answer you get back. (However, I would agree with you that the input of these people is relevant to mitigate the conduct. Even still, if the question is whether somebody with this attitude should hold a public position of such power over other people’s liberty and lives, the answer is an unqualified no.)

    Finally, you argue that Freyer has “represented” racial minorities. He has done no such thing. Prosecutors do not represent crime victims. They represent the State–mostly white people, both in terms of its citizenry and elected representatives. In any event, I agree that he has undoubtedly prosecuted people who were alleged to have committed criminal offenses against racial minorities (probably most all of them racial minorities themselves). Nevertheless, although there is no data (at least that has been collected), I would bet big money that if you were to do a statistical analysis, you would find that Freyer has sought and received higher punishments against racial minorities who were alleged to have committed offenses against white people than those alleged to have committed offenses against other racial minorities, i.e., he takes crimes against white people more seriously than those against racial minorities. This phenomenon is nothing against Freyer, really. You would likely find this statistical result if you examined any prosecutor’s record. It has been done in the death penalty context–where because of the severity of the penalty most studies like this are performed–and it shows just this result. In the end, that Freyer has prosecuted persons for crimes against racial minorities does not inform the issue at all. These were even prosecuted in the Jim Crow era, for God’s sake.

  25. AHCL

    For me, I think we’re all racists to varying degrees. Unless you’re the overt KKK type racist, then it becomes a question of degree.

    It’s also a question of being mindful or aware of our prejudices. It’s also a question of feeling better than others. If I feel I’m better than any other group, then that is racism.

  26. Let me throw out an example here.

    PJ, I think you are a racist.

    I’ve never met you. But I just felt like saying that. Now, you can try to convince me all you want. You can have people that know you are no racist write in. You can scream it out until the end of time. But based on my above statement, you’re screwed. Sorry.

    You were one of my earliest posters, PJ, and you’ve had some ideas that flow against the mainstream. I’m still reeling over your thoughts that the State isn’t entitled to a fair trial. I gotta say, you keep things interesting.

    You bring up an interesting thought in saying that we are racists to some degrees. There’s got to be some philosophical line of thought that stretches that to the point that since we are all racists, then none of us are racists, wouldn’t you think?

    Anon C and Pro Vic,
    You guys can keep arguing with PJ, but you aren’t ever going to get anywhere. Any more than he’s going to get anywhere with you. Save yourselves the ulcers.

  27. AHCL,

    Where does this right to a fair trial that you imagine the State has come from? Who is it that you imagine has the power to deprive the State of a fair trial?

    That the State has no right to a fair trial (in fact, no rights in its relationship with the People) is entirely correct — so indisputable that even the Court of Criminal Appeals agrees (Collier v. Poe, 732 S.W.2d 332 (Tex. Crim. App. 1987)) and should be wholly uncontroversial.

    As a matter of jurisprudence, the State has powers (and no rights) in relation to the People; the People have rights (and no powers) in relation to the State.

  28. A fair trial in the sense that the Rules of Procedure and Evidence must be followed. The State has a right to a juror that hasn’t been bribed by the defendant, for example (an extreme case, I know). The State has a right to a jury that will hold them to the standard of Beyond a Reasonable doubt, but not Beyond All Doubt.
    The State has a right to all those things that could get a juror struck for Cause if they can’t follow the particular rule.
    I understand what you are saying, though, and the principles for which they stand . . . one nation . . . under God . . . indivisible . . .

  29. Well,

    Since AHCL thinks PJ is a racist – and PJ hasn’t denied it (at least, no one has published PJ’s denial, so that means he must be admitting it – but if he denies it, well, all racists deny it anyway) – I guess there is enough evidence. I think PJ is racist too.

    And PJ – if you don’t think prosecutors don’t represent individuals, you’re detached from all reality. Little girls get raped by their daddies sometimes, and prosecutors who go into court rooms to represent the lofty, noble, and amorphous “State” don’t exist. Men and women who care about individual, real people speak for them, thanks to the State. We represent the poor, uneducated, and defenseless, who, without the help of your tax dollars, would not have any one to help them.

    I won’t stand on your/”the State’s” behalf in court. Until you get raped, robbed, or murdered. Then I’ll stand there for you. And your mom. And your kids. People who think what happened to you was wrong. And I’ll know your real name, and their names too if that dreaded day were to ever come. And I’ll be sick to my stomach that I might do something wrong and let you and them down.

    And Mark – seriously – as a member of society, don’t you believe that you and your family have the RIGHT to be free of being harmed (and I mean, in the criminal sense) by other people? And in order to stop those who would harm normal, lawful folks, isn’t it implicit in our law that the State gets a fair trial?

    Yeah, I know, government has “power” and individuals have “rights.” Power means hauling people into court against their will (because so many robbers and rapist and murders would voluntarily show up). Rights means, making sure the government doesn’t cheat.

    Are either of you seriously taking the position that there should be an unfair, un-level playing field in courts of law in Texas? I mean, as it is, defendant’s have their advantages already – prosecutors rarely know who the defense witnesses are, what they will say, what attacks the defense will lodge against the prosecutors witnesses (oh, in fairness, we eventually learn the normal attacks – she’s a slut, he’s mad I kicked his dog 5 years ago, so he’s made up a big lie and endured police investigations and criminal court proceedings to get even with me (instead of just coming over to my house and trying to kick my a**)).

    Saying that victims, and the public lawyers who speak for them aren’t entitled to fair trials is essentially a call for anarchy.

    You guys accuse prosecutors of being arrogant and elitist . . . but you like the snake eating its own tail.

  30. Nope. More than 300 murders last year in our county proves that we can’t just get along.

    Since we know everyone won’t just get along with each other, and people are going to have to be reigned in (yeah, that means – taken out of circulation, since they have demonstrated they cannot play well with others), who should be the DA?

    I mean, since there has to be a DA, anyway. Even though we wish it were otherwise.

  31. AHCL,

    It doesn’t bother me in the least that you would publicly assert that I’m a racist. Because your assertion lacks all evidence, it has no force whatsoever. Nobody really believes you, and I would have no fear that anybody ever would. Even pro.victims’ follow-up post is made in jest. Indeed, I know that you don’t even believe you.

    (By the way, since I’m sure you all have probably made assumptions (implicit associations?) about me, I am not black. I’m as white as they come. In your head, I suspect you have the image of a black person being racist against whites.)


    I’m sorry, but you are sorely misguided. Violent crime is extremely rare. I do feel much sympathy for those unlucky enough to cross its path, but I don’t ever expect to be a crime victim in my lifetime (and I live right smack in the middle of Houston). And even if I were, I would not seek vengeance through the Harris County District Attorney’s office.

    I am also sorry to report that it would be nothing short of unethical for a prosecutor to ever pretend that he or she represents a crime victim, and any prosecutor worth his or her salt would say as much up front. I’m sorry if you’ve been misled by anybody.

    And you don’t understand what we mean we say the State has no right to a fair trial. The emphasis is on “right.” The State by definition has a fair trial, since it made up the rules and possesses exclusive use of force. The defendant has rights against this monopoly of violence. In other words, the State, by virtue of its monopoly of violence, could just arrest people accused of crimes and imprison them without trial. Our society, however, has agreed (through the US Constitution) that persons so accused should be afforded a trial and that during said trial certain rules should be observed so as to ensure its fairness to the accused. Thus, a criminal defendant has “rights.” The State, which by virtue of its possession of a monopoly on violence could just throw the accused in jail, has no “rights.” Any discussion on the State’s “rights” as against its citizens is pure nonsense.

    Does this make sense to you now?

  32. Sorry to skip out on the festivities last night. The night life called. ‚ÄúRambo‚Äù sucked, by the way. 🙂

    I just wanted to add this…


    “Fact 1: Jury hold outs have never in the history of the world been referred to as Canadians. (By the way, there is no hyperbole in that fact. It has never once happened.)”

    Wow! The history of the world, huh? And you know that how? Have you been privy to every private conversation between prosecutors since…well, since the beginning of time, I suppose? That’s pretty impressive!

    “Fact 2: There is a tradition of blacks being referred to derogatively as Canadians.”

    Well, according to your (ahem) iron-clad, intellectually-sound source, “Canadian” has obviously been used in that way at one time or another.

    But there is something that you, being a liberal, do not know or are choosing to ignore. Republicans often use the term “Canadian” to refer to liberals. How do I know this? I know this because I’m a Republican and I use that term all the time in that very way and have heard it used by many Republicans routinely. Why do we call liberals “Canadians”? You can probably figure that out for yourself, PJ. Canada is very well known for its uber-liberal ways. But, if you don’t believe me, let a real Canadian tell you all about it:


    By the way, no offense intended to any real Canadians out there. Yes, it‚Äôs a slam, but it‚Äôs nothing personal against you. It‚Äôs more about your general politics. I know that there are many exceptions to the rule, the host of the above website being one of them. Keep fightin‚Äô the good fight up there, PTBC! 🙂

    “Nevertheless, although there is no data (at least that has been collected), I would bet big money that if you were to do a statistical analysis, you would find that Freyer has sought and received higher punishments against racial minorities who were alleged to have committed offenses against white people than those alleged to have committed offenses against other racial minorities, i.e., he takes crimes against white people more seriously than those against racial minorities.”

    Well, you’d better hold on to that “big money”, PJ, because that‚Äôs just not true at all. Quite the opposite, in fact. You clearly have no clue what you‚Äôre talking about when it comes to Rob Freyer, do you? You don‚Äôt know him personally, you obviously don‚Äôt know his trial record and you don‚Äôt seem to know anything about the trial from whence the ‚ÄúCanadian‚Äù term sprung except for what one Chronicle columnist-with-an-agenda-similar-to-yours has fed you.

    In your own words, “Because your assertion lacks all evidence, it has no force whatsoever.”

  33. Good debate, hell of a read.

    Some of you forget the first rule of the intertubes. If you can’t link it, it never happened.

    Thanks just the same though.

  34. Re: Canadians

    I never would have thought of Canadian as a racial slur until I read the story.

    I could easily have misused the term. In my mind, I’d much easier see the association between white liberal than a black person.

    I don’t know enough about the context or the follow up by the black ADA to know if it was intended as a racial slur.

    My concern is that there was never a retraction, apology or correction to my knowledge.

  35. There IS an e-mail explanation (not “retraction” or “apology” because there was nothing to apologize for, unless having political opinions is now unacceptable), Ron.

    Haven’t you been reading AHCL’s blog?

    It was written by Rob almost immediately after the incident and, as AHCL pointed out, it was secured by the media in the Open Records request of Trent’s e-mail.

    Fox 26 definitely has a copy of it under wraps and so does your above-board, fair-minded, non-biased, little buddy, Bernstein.

  36. I’m a researcher doing work on capital punishment in Harris County. The legal culture here is unlike any I have encountered in other parts of the country. And these blogs have been invaluable in getting a glimpse of it.

    Anyways, I posted a blog post elsewhere about the question of who prosecutors represent, both legally and culturally. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I read the voir dire transcript of a Harris County prosecutor telling a potential juror that she represented the victim’s family. The transcript excerpt, and my own thoughts about it, can be found here (on a blog I contribute to), if anyone is interested in continuing that conversation…


  37. Hmm. A researcher from Berkley looking at the death penalty in Harris County, Texas. This is going to get ugly.

    Just kidding.

    I think that we do have a very interesting culture within the CJC. It’s kind of like a very large, dysfunctional family.

  38. Awwww! Look, PJ! A new Canadian friend for you! 🙂

    Hehe! 100% kidding, as well.

    Hey, DWL, I just looked at your blog. It’s nice! Very creative and informative.

    You’re a big fan of Jane Fonda’s, huh? She’s quite a woman.

  39. Well, I am Minnesotan, so that’s pretty close to Canada, right? 🙂

    I’m actually a Ph.D. student, working on a dissertation down here in Texas… not from Berkeley. And that blog is a group project of a bunch of nerdy grad students, including myself. So the Jane Fonda post wasn’t mine, though I remember my Mom having her workout book when I was a kid.

  40. Yes, pretty close, DWL! 🙂

    I remember those work-out videos, too! I did many a leg lift to Jane Fonda! 🙂

    In fact, I feel a very intimate connection with her.

    I really look up to her, if you wanna know the truth. She sorta voices what I feel inside. Do you get what I mean?

  41. anon c

    You’re really an interesting piece of work. Bernstein is not my “buddy.” I do think that a lot of people are trying to attribute to him an agenda that I frankly don’t see. It’s not easy being a journalist and I suspect he tries quite hard to avoid bias in his writings.

    It’s really not a matter of whether Freyer or Trent or Seigler are per se racists. The fact of the matter is that they are products of a culture that certainly didn’t actively discourage racism.

    So, fair or not, they have the stigma of being products of a culture that is suspect.

    Personally, I don’t find Mike Trent’s explanation of believing that there were really Canadians on the jury as credible. Even with the process of using driver’s license records to select potential jurors, I’m sure any Canadian citizen with a Texas DL use the “out” that they are not a US citizen to avoid jury duty.

    I highly suspect that there are subversive Canadians out to torpedo Texas justice, so I’m officially calling BS on Mike Trent.

    I’m still not calling Mike Trent a racist. I’m calling the culture at the Harris County District Attorney’s office highly suspect.

  42. Awwww! Thanks, Ron. I must say that I find you rather interesting, as well. 😉

    As far as AB goes, I do not believe that he “tries quite hard to avoid bias in his writings”. In fact, he tries to intimidate people who call him out on his obvious biases.

    So, I guess we just need to agree to disagree there.

    As for Trent, I think that writing that e-mail was idiotic and that his explanation was only a misguided attempt to cover up for the political slam. It was laughable.

    So, you won’t find me cheerleading for Trent anytime soon. I never have in my posts and I never will.

    You just have yourself the best day ever, snookums! 🙂

  43. anon c

    You sound surprisingly like – Pat Lykos.

    All you nned is a cigarette in your hand.

    Since you’re big on facts – provide me one instance of Bernstein trying to intimidate someone.

    You get quickly offended when someone throws out the racist label yet you’re awfully fast on the draw with the “liberal” label.

    I’ll also give you extra points for style and grammar. Snookums.

  44. Hehe! Come on, Ron! Lighten up! Just havin‚Äô a little fun with ya! 🙂

    As far as drawing comparisons between the liberal and the racist labels…ummm…they seem radically different from where I’m sitting. I don’t even see the word “liberal” as a label at all. Isn’t it just a political stance? Just like the word “conservative”? You can call me conservative all day long and I’d be 100% not offended.

    Being a liberal is nothing to be ashamed of, Ron. Walk proud, if you are one.

    As far as AB facts, since I‚Äôve been having a darn good day, thus far, and have no wish to spoil it by painstakingly dredging up unpleasantness best forgotten, I‚Äôd simply refer you to my comment at the end of AHCL‚Äôs “It‚Äôs Day 13, Alan Bernstein” post.

    Hang in there, Ron. Remember‚Ķit‚Äôs not personal. It’s just blogging. 🙂

  45. anon c

    I agree, we all need to lighten up.

    It’s just the Bernstein has his ethics. Accusing him of reporting with bias is a serious accusation at least for a reporter.

    Honestly, Alan Bernstein could be as liberal as heck. I just haven’t seen that in his reporting.

    If Bernstein has a scarlet L tattooed on his forehead, then my honest impression is that he’d be pulling for Lykos. I think Seigler is a much more formidable candidate in the general election than Lykos.

    My first choice is Leitner. However, he just seems to be a somewhat marginal candiate.

    It will be an interesting race in March and November.

  46. Hey Ron,
    I hate to do a blatant plug for my blog on Mark’s, but my latest post may show a bit of Bernstein’s bias.

    Also, I am aware of what Anon C is writing when she says Bernstein tried to intimidate her. Mark knows about it to. It’s Anon C’s place to tell you the story if he/she wants to.

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