February 17, 2008

Houston's embattled DA finally steps down

Allegations of racism in prosecutions

If Houston was a state, it would rank second only to the rest of Texas in the number of executions carried out in the past three decades. And behind this unprecedented juggernaut stands one man - Harris County District Attorney Chuck Rosenthal.

Rosenthal resigned from office Friday amid a high-profile scandal involving the release of dozens of pornographic, racist and political e-mails on his office computer.

Of potential interest to my readers, the scandal almost coincidentally brought out allegations of racism in the prosecution of crimes: Black potential jurors were allegedly struck because they were perceived as soft on crime; code names for blacks were bandied about in e-mails, and black leaders believed that prosecutors worked to punish blacks more harshly than whites.

The Houston Chronicle has the complete story, along with a timeline of events and links to other coverage. For more on capital punishment, including in Harris County, check out the amazing set of links at the prosecutor’s office of Clark County, Illinois.

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