This week, Adam LIptak of the New York Times has taken the great light that is the New York Times, using it to shine into dark corners of corruption, and revealed as story that’s been talked about in defense circles are awhile. And his efforts can’t be noticed without also pointing out the efforts of Texas Monthly’s editor Michael Hall, who started receiving letters from a Death Row inmate named Hood and took notice of them.
However, it’s the New York Times that’s really helping spread this shocking story, better late than never. We all need to know about this evildoing.
Seems that over in Texas (yes, Texas), during a trial where a man was facing the sentence of death, the judge (Verna Sue Holland) was having an affair with the prosecutor (Thomas S. O’Connell, Jr.). This love affair apparently went on for years, and was the subject of much courthouse gossip.
Imagine the stress this placed upon defense counsel for Charles Dean Hood, who was being tried in Judge Holland’s court for a capital offense. Imagine their feelings now, since the United States Supreme Court has his petition for writ of cert before it, with the amicus brief of "former judges, state officials and prosecutors" numbering 21 in all, filing their support of his petition as friends of the court.
Charles Dean Hood sits today on Texas’ Death Row, having facing more than one last minute stay of execution already. Judge Holland has retired. The U.S. Supreme Court has yet to rule.
Here’s a curious fact: Judge Verna Sue Holland served for 16 years as a justice on the highest criminal court in Texas, their Court of Criminal Appeals. You know the one. That’s the same court that Sharon Keller presides over as Chief Justice today (at least for now).