2008 Archives

Judge-prosecutor link slammed


The following story is from the Sept. 17, 2008, edition of The Associated Press. Professor Fred Moss of SMU's Dedman School of Law provided expertise for this story.

September 17, 2008

Legal experts slam Texas judge-prosecutor link

The Associated Press

DALLAS (AP) — Legal experts are harshly criticizing a former judge and an ex-Texas prosecutor, saying their alleged sexual affair while handling cases together represents a black eye to the system.

"It's such incredible bad judgment because it throws every conviction into doubt," said Fred Moss, a Southern Methodist University law professor.

An apparent open secret 20 years ago in Collin County legal circles, the alleged affair became part of the public record again last week.

Lawyers for death row inmate Charles Dean Hood sought a stay of execution in the nation's busiest death penalty state, arguing former Judge Verla Sue Holland was biased because of her relationship with ex-Collin County District Attorney Thomas O'Connell. . .

Moss said he expects the appeals court to find a reason to grant a new trial for Hood, who was convicted of killing a 26-year-old former dancer and her 46-year-old boyfriend.

"What it does is bring the whole system into question," Moss said. "It's a real black eye to the system and very unfortunate. It shakes the confidence of the public in the criminal justice system."

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