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September 16, 2009

Texas CCA finds procedural bar to considering amor-afflicted death sentence

This AP article, which is headlined "No retrial for condemned man after judge-DA affair,"  reports on a notable ruling from the highest criminal court in Texas:

A Texas death row inmate won't be able to argue for a new trial, despite admissions of an affair between his trial judge and the prosecutor, a court announced Wednesday.

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruled that convicted murderer Charles Dean Hood should have raised concerns about the affair between the now retired court officials in earlier appeals. The ruling overturned a lower court's recommendation that Hood be able to make his case for a new trial based on the affair.

How appealing has more, with links to the ruling, in this post.

September 16, 2009 at 04:15 PM | Permalink


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Leave it to Texas...an inmate does not get a new trial, despite incontrovertible structural error, because he didn't raise it soon enough. I suppose they figured applying harmless error analysis would have been too transparent?

He's screwed in the Fifth Circuit, too...they've never met a habeas petition that they liked. Looks like SCOTUS will have to do the right thing.

Posted by: Res ipsa | Sep 16, 2009 4:52:16 PM

Bravo for the TCCA. This turkey held back this claim (even though he had notice of it) for years. Then, as his execution was imminent, he threw it out there.

He gets what he deserves.

Posted by: federalist | Sep 16, 2009 5:05:56 PM

@Res ipsa,

Ah but the 5th Ct does have its soft spot. Earlier this year, they tied in en banc on whether the statue of limitations should reverse a murder conviction of a white supremacist in the Civil rights era. Then a majority agreed to certify the question to the Supreme Court.

It was not a death penalty case, but a life sentence.

Posted by: . | Sep 16, 2009 5:11:48 PM

federalist, on what basis do you assert that he could have brought this claim for years? Rumors (even wide-spread ones) do not amount to making a viable claim.

On another note, does anyone know if (and how) the affair has impacted other prior prosecutions? I imagine this isn't the only case where this prosecutor appeared before this judge during the 6 year relationship.

Posted by: DEJ | Sep 16, 2009 5:57:24 PM

Thanks for the update "."...I'll have to look at that one. I guess it's at least a start for the Fifth, right?

Posted by: Res ipsa | Sep 17, 2009 8:38:47 AM

@Res ipsa
The case is US v. James Ford Seale.

But I wouldn't praise the 5th so soon. A few weeks later, they tied en banc on whether to overturn award of damages for prosectorial misconduct resulting in a conviction of innocent person.

I think the Seale tie came after a majority voted to en banc, thus vacating the 3 judge panel decision to overturn the conviction. The tie in the misconduct case apparently left the damage award intact.

Posted by: . | Sep 17, 2009 9:26:03 AM

Posted by: . | Sep 17, 2009 9:26:03 AM

Given how emphatic SCOTUS has been on the issue of prosecutorial immunity I am surprised there is any level of misconduct they would agree allows damages to attach.

Posted by: Soronel Haetir | Sep 17, 2009 9:39:01 AM

Bad news. Similar cases elsewhere have allowed relief.

Posted by: ohwilleke | Sep 17, 2009 3:04:23 PM

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