Friday, December 01, 2006

Rosenthal vs. Recer: Attorney chosen for Houston capital case involving Mexican national

Via Capital Defense Weekly:
StandDown notes that Danalynn Recer (Gulf Regional Advocacy Center), who regularly represents Mexican nationals charged with capital murder, will take over defense for Juan Leonardo Quintero. The Houston Chronicle notes that the state district judge handling the case this morning dismissed the appointed attorneys defending Quintero, ruling instead that the man's choice of attorneys, a capital murder specialist hired by the Mexican Consulate, would lead the defense.
Danalynn is a good friend from back in college and she's one of the most fearless and fearsome attorneys I know - a cartload of dynamite packed into a 98-pound frame - so Quintero will certainly receive a zealous defense. He supposedly confessed to murdering a Houston police officer, and Harris County DA Chuck Rosenthal has announced he's leading the prosecution personally and will likely seek the death penalty (a little political grandstanding, possibly - he's up for re-election in 2008).

If Quintero really confessed and he did the crime, all the action will occur during the sentencing phase where Recer's years of experience working capital appellate cases make her one of the best in the game. Or, if Quintero's turned out to be a false confession, it certainly wouldn't be the first one. Then one would expect the initial guilt/innocence phase of the trial to heat up.

Years ago Danalynn told me she wanted to move from capital appellate work to trial advocacy because so many appointed lawyers, particularly in Houston, did a poor job of aggressively investigating capital cases, managing the trials' unique and complicated sentencing phase, and preserving key issues for appeal. She moved from New Orleans to Houston and founded the Gulf Regional Advocy Center to fill that void. Quintero's case is exactly the type Danalynn envisioned handling when she made the switch.

So the stage is set for a good old-fashioned, high-stakes showdown: Stay tuned. This would be a trial worth watching.

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