Going overboard on the Rosenthal proceedings

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Attorney and blogger Tom Kirkendall today calls out the local media for going overboard on the Chuck Rosenthal “contempt” proceedings. Here is an excerpt:

It’s become fashionable around Houston to be critical of outgoing Harris County District Attorney Chuck Rosenthal. Frankly, much of the criticism is deserved. But given what Rosenthal has been going through over in federal court over the past couple of days, one has to wonder whether the media firestorm over Rosenthal has reached the point that otherwise rational observers have taken leave of their senses.

Take this latest Chronicle article on the hearing over Rosenthal’s destruction of emails that he had been ordered to turn over in connection with a civil lawsuit in federal court. The Chron article, which is representative of the newspaper’s vitriolic coverage of Rosenthal’s political demise, calls the hearing a “contempt hearing” in which the judge could “hold Rosenthal in contempt, . . .[and] put the DA behind bars for six months.”

H’mm. I don’t think so.

Although the plaintiffs in the civil lawsuit are having a field day excoriating Rosenthal in court and in the media, I can’t see how the judge could hold Rosenthal in contempt of court, at least at this stage.

Kirkendall then lays out his legal reasoning in his usual efficient manner.

In addition to Kirkendall’s blog, two other local legal blogs (blawgs) have been providing excellent commentary on the Rosenthal matter, albeit from very different perspectives:

* Life at the Harris County Criminal Justice Center


* Defending People: The Art and Science of Criminal Defense Lawyering

Much local blog commentary (and ensuing discussion) on the Rosenthal matter has exceeded the quality of the dreck that has been regularly served up by the area’s newspaper of record.

BLOGVERSATION: Defending People.

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Kevin Whited is co-founder and publisher of blogHOUSTON. Follow him on twitter: @PubliusTX