Did an affair between a judge and a DA cause a perversion of justice?
Ever read the Tommy Wolfe book The Bonfire Of The Vanities? Not the Tom Hanks film. One of the many side stories involves a young assistant DA trying to put his game down on 1 of his jurors (with brown lipstick) after his trial ends. This results in a mistrial and is a major no-no, even after the fact (hint, neither of these 2 are members of the Vanities family). While Wolfe's work is full of lessons and cautionary tales, the corrupting affect of the interpersonal relationships existing between the various supposedly independent arms of the justice system is a pretty big point.
That being said, a retired judge from Texas, Verla Sue Holland, is being questioned over her affair with DA Tom O'Connell. Evidently, a man's life hangs in the balance. A guy named Charles Dean Hood was convicted back in 1990 of killing his roommates, a man and women, outside of Dallas. The DA on his case was Tom O'Connell and the judge was, aw crap, Verla Sue Holland. Charles Dean Hood was given the death penalty for those murders. And now his lawyers have some questions for the DA and judge, per the Miami Herald.
The stay of execution is a mere 2 days as legal officials investigate whether or not the jury was given false instructions. But the real question is whether or not the secret liaison was going on during the trial. Per the New York Times, both Verla Sue Holland and Tom O'Connell have differing memories of when the affair ended and a member of the peanut gallery thinks it wasn't until 1993. Not good. Supposedly, Holland recused her from a number of cases but never revealed why and a court clerk maintains that there is no way of knowing how many cases the 2 worked concurrently. While no one has explicitly accused either party of working to corrupt the trial, the conflict of interests is clearly inherent.
Hopefully, this isn't going to be portrayed in the general media as a stereotypical case of southern justice. It's way more a case of incredibly bad judgment by a couple of legal professionals that should have known better. Here's a short list of justice system pairings (within a case, we suppose) that should be avoided:
DA: Judge, Defense Attorney, Suspect, Material Witness, Victim, Jury
Defense Attorney: Arresting Officer, Judge, Victim, Material Witness, Jury
Judge: Pretty Much Everyone
That's it. A judge or lawyer can pretty much date everyone one Earth that is not related to a case they're working. Generally, that leaves about 260,000 people to date in Plano, TX alone. While most of the general population in any area is completely undateable, that still leaves a few thousand singles in any specific age range (Plus CNN thinks Plano is an awesome place to live and Forbes says it's affluent). And that doesn't even factor in that Dallas is like 30 minutes away. Branch out.