Friday, September 05, 2008

Two Texecutions scheduled next week, but will either one go through?

Texas has a dozen more executions scheduled in 2008, including two back to back next Thursday and Friday.

The first of those, Gregory Wright, will receive a stay, reports the Dallas News' Crime Blog, to allow DNA testing the defendant hopes will support his actual innocence claims. If there's biological evidence to be tested, I don't know why the courts wouldn't allow it until the 11th hour, but if it turns out to belong to someone else, Wright wouldn't be the first person freed from death row based on DNA evidence.

The other scheduled execution has been the source of more attention here on Grits: Charles Dean Hood is still scheduled to meet his Maker next Friday, but a new judge (the last one recused himself) yesterday moved up the date for the civil hearing to determine whether Hood will get to depose the judge and prosecutor from his 1990 capital murder case to find out if they were conducting a romantic affair during the trial. Reports AP, "State District Judge Greg Brewer in suburban Dallas moved the date to Monday, two days before convicted killer Charles Dean Hood is set to die."

This is some high drama, isn't it? Will the judge finally allow their depositions? If so, that could happen as early as Monday. AP reported:
Brewer ordered retired Judge Verla Sue Holland and former Collin County District Attorney Tom O’Connell to be ready to be interviewed by lawyers Monday — if Brewer, after the hearing, agrees with Hood’s attorney that the pair should be deposed.
And what will these two say when finally forced to break their silence? They could just deny it, though if it's a lie, perjury would get them in more trouble than they'd likely be in otherwise. (So often it's not the original sin but the coverup that winds up nailing public officials.) Even if they admit the affair, will the Texas courts act on the information or allow Hood's execution to go forward anyway? Would it be the trial court or the Court of Criminal Appeals who makes such a call? The last of Hood's habeas appeals, as I understand it, have all been denied.

More importantly, even, than Charles Hood: If this alleged 6-year affair is admitted, what happens to the hundreds (thousands?) of convictions obtained by O'Connell's office in Judge Holland's court during that stretch in the late '80s and early '90s? What a mess!

Even Attorney General Greg Abbott thinks these questions need answering before Hood is finally executed. According to the Moratorium Network blog: "The Dallas Morning News says a stay may be on the horizon in the case of Charles Hood after the Texas Attorney General's office said it would file a legal brief today asking that the trial court fully review the matter, even if it means delaying the execution." Though AG Greg Abbott said there "appears to be little doubt that Hood deserves the sentence he was given,"
As Attorney General, I believe that the unique issues in this case, which involve the impartiality and fairness of his trial, warrant thorough review before his sentence is carried out. Tomorrow, the Office of the Attorney general will file an amicus brief asking the trial court to fully review the matter, even if doing so requires delaying the defendant's execution.
Even if the two principles belatedly admit to an illicit relationship, it's hard to decipher what happens next. The AG called for the original trial court to revisit this issue, while a letter from retired judges and prosecutors earlier this week called on Governor Perry and the Board of Pardons and Parole to give Hood a temporary reprieve.

If Holland (pictured at right) and O'Connell deny they had an affair on Monday, or if the new judge won't let the pair be deposed, I'd anticipate Hood's execution will go forward next Friday as scheduled. If not, this could mushroom quickly into a lot bigger story.

As for the question in the title of the post: I'd put the odds at a little better than 50-50 that Hood gets a stay, mostly because I think if Holland and O'Connell didn't have an affair they would have denied it long ago, and I doubt two experienced lawyers are dumb enough to perjure themselves. Having said that, if they did engage in the alleged conduct they're clearly unethical enough to do so. Quien sabe? Who knows what will happen? Stay tuned.


Anonymous said...

Wait! Wut? That is a photo of Bea Arthur

Anonymous said...

Holland removed the case to federal court today, saying she is being accused in the underlying case of a Section 1983 violation and that federal question exists.

Anonymous said...

All True Texans Hope & Pray for the Texecutions well go through.


Anonymous said...

Dan ~ which is why 'all true Texans' are becoming the laughing stock of America.

If these people are guilty, then due process should have nothing to fear from an examination of the circumstances of the trial procedures. But if you insist on convicting people based on shaky evidence and dubious procedure, then you need to be aware that you or your family could be next in line. Its really that simple.

Anonymous said...


"All True Texans Hope & Pray for the Texecutions well go through." (I think you meant will go through.)

If being a True Texan requires that one will Hope & Pray for the well oiled killing machine to continue to operate then I am relieved I am not a True Texan. On that same note...I did NOT get here as fast as I could. However, since I work, live and pay taxes to the state of Texas, I also get a say in what happens in this state. I'm sure this just makes your butt cheeks squince but suck it up and live with it.

As sunray's wench so aptly need to be aware that you or your family could be next in line. Wrongful convictions are becoming fodder for the press corp in light of all the exonerations in Texas. Trust me, there are many more that should happen over time. I dare say you wouldn't be so quick to see the killing machine in working order if it was you or one of your loved ones. But wait...everyone is guilty...right?? Doesn't matter what happened in the court room...right? Should this happen to you or a family member, please keep me posted. Although I am anti-death penalty I will make an exception for you and yours. I will play A TRUE TEXAN just for you.

Anonymous said...


A True Texan hopes these killers get what, by rights, they got comming to them.

So yeah, Charlie Hood is murdering S.O.B. and he is due a poison needle.

On the other hand this Greg White fella is claiming to be innocent and it would be a damned shame to execute the wrong man.

James C

Anonymous said...

I only hope everything is base on the law and not in mere prejudice or hatred.