The ABA Journal has obtained the findings of Judge Greg Brewer, who is recommending that the case of Charles Dean Hood be reviewed in light of an intimate relationship between former Collin County District Judge Verla Sue Holland and former Collin County District Attorney Thomas S. O’Connell Jr. Notably, O’Connell previously denied such a relationship.
Hood was on death row and his lawyers tried unsuccessfully to confirm the rumored relationship. He was saved at the last minute by a reprieve from death. Among the findings of fact are:
Judge Holland and Mr. O’Connell took deliberate measures to ensure that their affair would remain secret. There were no public displays of affection. Holland deposition at 52; O’Connell deposition at 43. Their sexual encounters took place at each other’s homes when their spouses were away.
Id. at 16-17; Holland deposition at 52. Mr. O’Connell could not recall telling anyone, except possibly his sisters, about his romantic relationship with Judge Holland. O’Connell deposition at 18. Judge Holland told no one. Holland deposition at 31, 33.
Brewer found a pattern of deception:
“Judge Holland and Mr. O’Connell wrongfully withheld relevant information from defense counsel prior to and during the trial, the direct appeal, the state habeas proceedings, the federal habeas proceedings, and the successive state habeas proceedings. Indeed, Mr. O’Connell misled habeas counsel during the successive state habeas proceedings and Judge Holland resisted counsel’s investigative efforts.”
Brewer finds that Holland and O’Connell had a “duty to disclose the fundamental conflict caused by their relationship.” He holds that “in the face of rumors of an affair, Hood was entitled to presume that Judge Holland’s and Mr. O’Connell’s behavior—refusing to recuse themselves from cases Mr. O’Connell personally prosecuted in Judge Holland’s courtroom—indicated that the rumors were false.”
For the findings of fact, click here.
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