Thursday, January 10, 2008

And the Hits Just Keep Coming

I'm not going to regurgitate the news of the day in detail, because odds are if you are actually reading this blog, you already know them. However, there is much to discuss, and a couple of questions I have. I'll break them down into three topics:

1. Kelly Siegler's "nuts and screwballs" comment. She's picking a death penalty jury, and she's dealing with an African-American prospective juror that she exercises a peremptory challenge on. She draws a Batson challenge, and makes a comment that offends Lakewood Church members. We all know that Batson prohibits striking a juror based on race, but should the same type of rule apply to religion? It gets a bit dicey on that topic, because a person's feelings on the death penalty are often very much tied into their religious beliefs. Would the same uproar be happening if she had made the comment about a Jehovah's Witness? Given the fact that there's no love lost between the media and the D.A.'s office these days, I'm guessing the uproar would be about the same.
The bottom line is that some religions strongly oppose the death penalty and that's going to keep them from being "death qualified" every time. My bigger question is who decided to turn over this portion of the trial transcript to the media?

2. The AG's Office is now investigating, and Chuck still isn't budging. I'm just posing this question for discussion: What, if anything, would make Chuck voluntarily resign?

3. Lots of the people posting on the Chronicle's website seem to be calling for all Assistant District Attorney's to be thrown out of the office along with Rosenthal? I don't know about y'all's experiences, but I would say that for the most part, the ADAs are pretty decent. There's always going to be a couple that will piss you off royally, but who is in the majority? The good ones or the bad ones?

That's all I've got for the moment.


Anonymous said...

What we all know about Batson challenges is how often prosecutors lie when answering to them. I've heard explanations like "he has the same hair style as the Defendant," "he lives in the same neighborhood as the Defendant," "he wears the same type of clothes as the Defendant," etc. All of them are coded references to race, but sound superficially race-neutral, and courts have allowed them.

I'm waiting to hear a challenge justified on "he has the same blood type as the Defendant." The really vile thing about Seigler's "nuts and screwballs" comment isn't that she slandered thousands of Houstonians who attend that church. It is that she was lying to the court while engaging in a racist jury strike. This sort of dishonesty and racism, in itself, should disqualify her from serious consideration in the DA's race.

A Harris County Lawyer said...

Anon, I agree there are some serious bullshit reasons that can come up on responses to Batson challenges. Hairstyle would absolutely fall into that category. I'm a little more understanding with the "same neighborhood" reason however. I think running the risk of a juror knowing the Defendant is a real one to a prosecutor.

Kelly's "nuts and screwballs" comment was not good, no doubt about it, but there was more to her reasoning that the media didn't latch onto. I'll talk more about that later in A LOT more depth. I don't have time to do it at the moment, because I have a lot of thoughts on the topic, but I promise to do it over the weekend.