Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Readers: Chuck Rosenthal should resign

The results weren't that surprising, but they were overwhelming. With 250 Grits readers registering an opinion in last week's blog survey, 89% of you (222) said Harris County District Attorney Chuck Rosenthal should resign over revelations that racist and lewd emails were found on his office computer, as well as evidence that he used county resources for his political campaign.

A lot of Republicans think Rosenthal should resign because his presence might hurt GOP candidates, while some Democrats suspect he may be guilty of official misconduct. But the main reason I think it's time for him to go is that we will inevitably see a long string of local stories like this one ("Analysis: DA has history of judgment issues," Jan. 15) bringing up all his old baggage. Reported the Chronicle:
Sometimes his behavior seemed mere foolishness. There was the oft-cited instance when he set off firecrackers in an office stairwell that some workers feared was gunfire. There was his less-publicized and highly personal judicial "voters guide" that he shared with other prosecutors. He offered opinions on candidates, including sitting judges, in language that often lapsed into the vulgar.

There were other instances over the years when Rosenthal's conduct has had more serious connotations. In 1986, for example, his tactics as a prosecutor were questioned when he was accused of sending two undercover police officers posing as defense lawyers into the city jail to talk with a defendant there on cocaine charges. The alleged trick was an attempt to learn more about a reported kidnapping. Even Holmes questioned whether his assistant, one of two prosecutors assigned to the case, had pushed the envelope.

The defendant's attorney, Dan Gerson, was incensed when it happened, and his opinion did not lessen over time.

"I thought it showed a willingness to cross the ethical line, and that Rosenthal believes that the end justifies the means," Gerson recalled in 2003.

Those are interesting stories, but the only reason they qualify as "news" is that Rosenthal's enemies see his blood in the water, so they'll inevitably continue to pound him with everything they've got, including events from the past about which the media long ago quit focusing ... until now.

That kind of constant drumbeat about their boss puts immense unspoken pressure on employees at the DA's office and discredits the whole system, not just one man. Grits readers are right - it's time for Chuck Rosenthal to go. Even if he's nearly the only one who doesn't see it.

RELATED: From Mark Bennett, "Harris County's Diversity Policy is 'Pretty Much Ignored'."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Isn't it interesting that Mr. Rosenthal makes racist statements (in addition to others) and his resignation is called for. Dementia Pope of TYC makes them and not a peep. Guess there's no such thing as a Black racist?????