Wednesday, April 28, 2010

More Than an Ethical Lapse

The Supreme Court abdicated its responsibility to address fundamental questions of ethics and fairness when it declined to review the case of Charles Dean Hood, an inmate on death row in Texas.

The one-line order, issued without comment from any of the justices, left in place an egregiously tainted 1990 double-murder conviction. Eighteen years after Mr. Hood was sentenced to death, the state trial judge, Verla Sue Holland, and Tom O’Connell, then the Collin County district attorney, admitted that they had had a secret affair that appears to have ended not long before the trial.


The fact that the judge and prosecutor were romantically involved should have resulted in the judge's removal from the trial process. At this point, a new trial is clearly warranted. The fact that the Texas courts and the U.S. Supreme Court have failed to right this wrong shows how the death penalty, and the politics that infest it, have corrupted the judiciary. This sordid event is more than an ethical lapse, it is a flagrant violation of due process and fairness.

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