Omar Loureiro will be tried a second time for the murder of a Lighthouse Point man who he had gone home with from a local bar: right now, he’s setting on Death Row for this crime.
In 2007, Loureiro was tried for first degree murder in the case, found guilty, and sentenced to death. Two years later, he’s going back in the courtroom – and it’s all because of the actions of the judge and the prosecutor in his first murder trial. (The new trial date hasn’t been set.)
Testimony that Judge and Prosecutor Discussed the Case Over Dinner
Bottom line, there was testimony by Broward County prosecutor Sheila Alu that she had dinner with both Judge Ana Gardiner and prosecutor Howard Scheinberg, where they talked about the case, days before Loureiro was convicted. In fact, Alu testified that they had joked about the case.
Judge and Prosecutor Tell Their Side
The judge and prosecutor Scheinberg gave testimony, too – they admitted to an “appearance of impropriety,” because they ran into each other at the restaurant while the trial was ongoing, but they denied discussing, much less joking, about Mr. Loureiro’s trial. Critically, both also revealed in their testimony that they talked on the phone (cellphones, not office landlines) about the Louriero case sometime between this restaurant event and Mr. Louriero’s sentencing several months later.
The Appearance of Impropriety is the Standard
Looks bad, especially since all attorneys everywhere recognize that phrase “appearance of impropriety” all too well. It’s engrained early on that attorneys (and judges) are to err on the side of caution – we’re not to give even a suggestion that anything inappropriate is taking place.
The Recent Texas Judge and Prosecutor Case Comparison
Of course, things can get much worse than this. Much worse. Over in Texas, it was revealed last year that a trial judge and the district attorney assigned to her courtroom had been carrying on a secret love affair for many years – and no one knew (though there was much courthouse gossip suggesting it) until one of the prosecutor’s assistants blew the whistle on the two, which resulted in at least one Texas Death Row conviction being overturned thus far.
Charles Hood’s conviction was overturned last month with the court ruling he had received an “unfair trial” due to the relationship between the judge and the prosecutor during his murder trial – and this, without any direct evidence that the judge and the district attorney ever spoke about the case directly.