Harris County District Attorney Chuck Rosenthal has been in the thick of controversy of late. First, he refused to prosecute Texas Supreme Court Justice David Medina and his wife after a grand jury indicted them for arson. (Click here). Then he was forced to turn over e-mails in case that included embarrassing material, such as the married man’s romantic notes to his secretary as well as racist and pornographic material. Now, Rosenthal has admitted that he destroyed more than 2,500 e-mails after they were subpoenaed — an act that could result in a charge of contempt and potential incarceration.
The e-mails were part of a civil rights case in which Rosenthal was required to preserve and produce the evidence. In a hearing before U.S. District Judge Kenneth Hoyt, plaintiff attorney Lloyd Kelley cross-examined Rosenthal who admitted that he made false statements in affidavits submitted to the court. It appeared to be an effort by Rosenthal to avoid a perjury charge, since you are allowed to correct your testimony before the end of a proceeding.
Rosenthal insisted that he thought the e-mails were back up somewhere. However, the question is why he would sit there and delete thousands of e-mails without confirming such an important fact. Moreover, Hoyt asked why he waited for three weeks to notify the court of the destruction of the evidence.
In a chilling comment, the court indicated that criminal charges could be brought.
Hoyt: “It can be a crime can’t it? It’s called obstruction of justice. That’s what we call it over here. What to you call it?”Rosenthal: “It can be tampering with evidence.”
Rosenthal, who is fast becoming the Nifong of the West, has dropped his reelection plans and is now fighting to stay out of jail.
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