Charles Dean Hood : Fairness Irrelevant in Texas?

Charles Dean Hood: No new trial. Photo by Brian Birzer.

Prosecutor and judge were having affair…
New trial denied to death row defendant

By Ted McLaughlin / The Rag Blog / September 18, 2009

Yesterday, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals denied a new trial for a death row defendant. In doing so, they have strengthened the perception that fairness is not important in Texas death penalty trials, and neither is the competence of defense attorneys. If a defendant happens to get an unfair judge and a defense attorney not competent enough to see that, that’s just tough. You go to death row to wait on a needle in the arm.

In 1990, Charles Dean Hood was arrested and tried for the murder of Tracie Lynn Wallace and Ronald Williamson. His fingerprints were found in the home and he was driving Williamson’s car when he was arrested out-of-state. That sounds like pretty good evidence, until you realize that Hood was living with the couple. It would be strange if his fingerprints had not been in the home, and it’s within the realm of possibility that he really did have Williamson’s permission to drive the car (as he claimed).

Is Hood innocent? I don’t have any idea. He may well be guilty, but there is definite doubt as to whether he got a fair trial in Collin county. That’s because the prosecutor who prosecuted the case and the judge who heard the case were in the middle of a rather torrid love affair at the time (they saw each other from 1987 through 1993). This gives at least the strong perception that the judge may have been biased and unable to be absolutely fair to the defendant.

That’s not just my opinion. When news of the affair became public knowledge last year, 30 former prosecutors and federal and state judges signed a letter to Governor Perry stating that the sexual relationship “would have had a significant impact on the ability of the judicial system to accord Mr. Hood a fair and impartial trial.”

The Appeals Court didn’t agree. They said the point was moot since Hood’s trial and appeal attorneys knew of the affair and didn’t bring it up at trial or in early appeals. The court says that meant the defense attorneys thought the affair did not affect the judge’s fairness.

I have to disagree. It may just mean those attorneys were incompetent. They should have asked for a new judge, and if it was denied, they should have appealed the decision much earlier. But an attorney’s incompetent action or lack of action does not mean a defendant had a fair and impartial trial. In fact, it probably means just the opposite.

This might not be so bad, but the defendant was sentenced to death. In death penalty cases, the state of Texas cannot afford the perception that the defendant may not have had a fair trial. The Court of Appeals should have granted a new trial so there would be no doubts about the trial’s fairness.

I don’t believe Hood received a fair trial. Thirty former prosecutors and judges don’t believe it either, and I expect the perception is much more wide-spread than that. That’s a bad thing for the perception of justice in the Lone Star State.

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals screwed up. I just hope the U.S. Supreme Court will fix it.

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9 Responses to Charles Dean Hood : Fairness Irrelevant in Texas?

  1. Pollyanna says:

    Absolutely outrageous, and all too typical of Lone Star law! But if I’d been the defense attorney, I might have thought it VERY unwise to bring an illicit affair between a judge and prosecutor, both of whom I might face many times over the course of my career, to light!

    This isn’t merely speculation by my non-lawyer self. I know of a case in another state where(follow closely, now: a) a lawyer told a client (the defendant)’s family member (in supposed confidence) that the (married) prosecutor and a (married-to-someone-else)court official (NOT the judge) were having an affair; then b) the family member told the jailed defendant in a recorded conversation, including, of course, who had told him, for no reason other than that such hot news couldn’t be contained. A “friend” at the county lock-up sent the defense lawyer (and probably the prosecutor as well!) a tape of the conversation

    The defense attorney, mortified by the breach of confidentiality vis-a-vis this courtroom gossip, quit the case. The defendant spent a good bit more time behind bars until a new defense team could get up to steam. (Eventually, all charges were thrown out due to unrelated prosecutorial misconduct that had tainted the case from the beginning.)

    In this case, there was no issue of the romance affecting the outcome. In Hood’s case, although a romance between judge and prosecutor seems much more likely to interfere with outcomes, his original lawyer(s) may have simply felt that making such a revelation wasn’t worth a promising career.

  2. Pollyanna says:

    sorry — wrong web link on my previous comment — this is a link to the site of David Lee Powell, another TX death row inmate who faces lethal injection in the coming months.

    “Who’ll stop the rain?”

  3. dospesentas says:

    Opinion and conjecture carry little weight in a court of law and this matter should stand on the facts.

    Does cause exist in the record to substantiate claims Hood didn’t get a fair trial? What people think, believe or perceive has no bearing. Since this was a capital offense there was a jury. Did the judge prohibit key evidence? Did the judge improperly allow/disallow motions? These are things that must exist to support a new trial. Evidently when reviewed under appeal, the record failed to show descrepancy or procedural errors.

    A relationship between the Judge and prosecutor and failure to recuse is troubling. However this doesn’t mean Hood is innocent or that he didn’t get a fair trial.

  4. My opinion of the death penalty is public record and I think I probably would have signed off on a letter supporting a new trial in this case based on the APPEARANCE OF impropriety.

    The vision of pillow talk having an impact on a capital trial is stomach-churning.

    I can’t see that the public weal is greatly harmed even if there was no actual record of hinky rulings by the judge, because:

    1. In our adversary system, that trial could have been affected in ways not apparent from the record unless the judge and the prosecutor absolutely did not ever discuss the case–which is not knowable but unlikely given how capital cases suck up lawyer oxygen on all sides.

    2. This is a man bites dog case. A new trial here does not mean beaucoups of new trials based on speculation. Yes, I know capital cases cost millions to try. So they should be allowed to appear unfair to save money?

    3. In a capital case especially, we want to see our courts above this kind of speculation. I won’t say I never shared a bed with a lawyer, but I never shared a bed with a lawyer who was appearing in front of me near the same time. I would not allow that to happen. Judges do not have to give a reason when they recuse themselves–although in this case the fact that the affair was with a prosecutor means the judge would just have to switch to a civil docket, which could only be done in a large urban county. I’m sorry that such considerations could have an impact on the judge’s sex life and I certainly believe judges should have sex, but in a small county there’s just a career conflict that has to give on one side or the other.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Hoods original Lawyer at trial David Haynes stated in the media he that he “did not know” about the secrete affair during trail, then he stated in the media years later “ he did know now about the affair during trial.” Mr. Haynes also wrote Mr. Hood a letter while Hood was awaiting execution on Texas death row after the rumour came out in 1994, stating there was no affair, and it was just a rumour. It was not tell the affair was validate through Civil court that Haynes admit his knowledge of the conflict of a fair trial, or he would be still lying about the fact like he originally stated in media, and to his client Hood. Mr. Haynes was appointed this case through Judge Holland, so basically hired by the Judge to defend Hood in this double murder trial for Hoods life. Haynes in this defense hires Mr Parker a lawyer in believe practicing real estate at the time to assist him in helping the prosecution convicted Mr. Hood, but to the ignorant eye of the law, defend Mr. Hood. Parker had absolutely no legal experience at all during this murder trial. Haynes in the defense of Hood never called or hired one expert witness, saving him 10K out of his profit/ earning ratio, never had a voice annalists test preformed on the 911 call, saving him another 10K out of his profit/ earning ratio, never call one witness to testify to counter O, Connell identification of the evidence, and done nothing to mediate the sentencing phase to save Hood, and in turn doing nothing cost nothing. Haynes never defended Hood , that would be an insult to any Lawyer with integrity to make that statement. It also possible Haynes was revealing vital defense information to the prosecution to add insult to the incompetence, and the betrayal. That called attorney client privilege, see, DA O’Connell was filing motion to suppress mitigation evidence before the courts even knew about the sapena, so he one had Haynes office wired for confidential conversation about Hoods defense, or he was having conversations directly with Hoods lawyers. Hood never fired a weapon through Paraffin test, never entered into evidence, the male victim was receiving death threats, validated through tape recordings, and police reports again never entered into evidence, the note the state claims Hood wrote, was never conclusively validated with a handwriting expert. The voice in the background on the 911 tape, was never authenticated, validated through science, or any reliable testing, the car was never reported stolen, it was suggested Hood stole the car, suggested Hood forged checks, and suggested Hood made unauthorised visa purchase, nothing was validate, proved, or definitely concluded, but validated through witness testimony on an opinion presented by the states O’Connell, complemented by Judge Holland’s ruling to suppress evidence, and Haynes blatant disregard to revile or even attempt to present a defense to the accusations again Mr. Hood. This was not a fair trial. The people making the decision on the case are all personal friends of the above mention. Judge Keller uses her cock hold on the male Judges presiding in the Hood appeal on the affair to get the ruling she wants. Evident by the fact no one in good conscience, or bias legal mine could turn down the appeal based on a timeline. It makes more sense than the that the male judges in the TCCA are pussy whip by Keller than their explanation that a fair trial in a Texas court of law has a statue of limitations.

  6. Anonymous says:

    ( Spell checked version )

    Hoods original Lawyer at trial David Haynes stated in the media he that he “did not know” about the secrete affair during trial, then he stated in the media years later “ he did know now about the affair during trial.” Mr. Haynes also wrote Mr. Hood a letter while Hood was awaiting execution on Texas death row after the rumour came out in 1994, stating there was no affair, and it was just a rumour. It was not tell the affair was validated through Civil court that Haynes admit his knowledge of the conflict of a fair trial, or he would be still lying about the fact like he originally stated in media, and to his client Mr. Hood. Mr. Haynes was appointed this case through Judge Holland, so basically hired by the Judge to defend Hood in this double murder trial for Hoods life. Haynes in this defense hires Mr. Parker a lawyer I believe was practicing real estate at the time to assist him in helping the prosecution convicted Mr. Hood, but to the ignorant eye of the law, defend Mr. Hood. Parker had absolutely no legal experience at all during this murder trial. Haynes in the defense of Hood never called or hired one expert witness, saving him 10K out of his profit/ earning ratio, pre expert witness not hired, never had a voice annalists test preformed on the 911 call, saving him another 10K out of his profit/ earning ratio, never call one witness to testify to counter O, Connell identification of the evidence, and done nothing to mediate the sentencing phase to save Hood, and in turn doing nothing cost nothing Anything Haynes has to spend to defend Hood come out of the court appointed fee he receives, so basically if he does not hire an expert witness, as in this case, he get paid more on the fact it never came out of the set rate budget the state provides for appointed legal representation. That rate contains Haynes wage, so the less he spends on outside testing or professional witnesses, that more he get paid, something like a sick version of a paradox.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Haynes never defended Hood , that would be an insult to any Lawyer with integrity to make that statement. It is also possible that Haynes was revealing vital defense information to the prosecution to add insult to the incompetence, and the betrayal already validated through the affair mentioned. That is called attorney client privilege, see, DA O’Connell was filing motions to suppress mitigation evidence before the courts even knew about the sapena, so he had Haynes office wired for confidential conversation about Hoods defense, or he was having conversations directly with Hoods lawyers. Hood never fired a weapon through Paraffin test, that fact was never entered into evidence, the male victim was receiving death threats through telephone, that fact was validated through tape recordings, and police reports, again never entered into evidence, the note the state claims Hood wrote, was never conclusively validated with a handwriting expert. The voice in the background on the 911 tape, was never authenticated, validated through science, or any reliable testing as Hoods voice, the car was never reported stolen, it was suggested Hood stole the car, suggested Hood forged checks, and suggested Hood made unauthorised visa purchases, nothing was validate, proved, or definitely concluded, but validated through witness testimony on an opinion presented by the states O’Connell, complemented by Judge Holland’s ruling to suppress evidence that could have proved that someone other than Hood committed this crime, and Haynes blatant disregard to revile or even attempt to present a defense to these accusations against Mr. Hood is just pathetic for a better word of the English language. This was not a fair trial, it even an insult in my opinion to phantom the idea that Hood may have received a fair trial. If the TCCA was not corrupt the would have unanimous in the favour of a new trial, it is that simple. The people making the decision on this appeal are all personal friends of the above mention. Judge Keller is using her cock hold on the male Judges presiding in the Hood appeal on the affair issue at hand to get the ruling she wants or so desires. Evident by the fact no one in good conscience, or legal bias could turn down the appeal based on a timeline. It makes more sense than the male judges in the TCCA are pussy whip by Keller than their explanation that a fair trial in a Texas court of law has a statue of limitations.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Dated April 29/ 2003.

    Dear Mr. Haynes.

    Good day to you sir;

    I won’t try to take up to much of you time, but it is important that I am writing you at this time, for I am trying to seek answer’s to some things which I can’t figure out why you or Mr. Parker let take place.

    I received an affidavit from Janet Heitmiller whom used to work with you and on the trial which you represented me.

    In her affidavit you were aware of the relationship between the ( Judge ) & ( Prosecution) DA Tom O’Connell, that illicit affair caused vital damage to be properly giving a fair trial, this was brought to you attention and Mr. Parker , however you both were afraid that you two would bet removed from the case.

    I can’t understand why you wouldn’t speak out about this, knowing it hurt my chances to receive a fair trial, this was also brings the attention why most of the trial was done in her chambers without court reporters to type really important statements being made, but being outside the court reporter things were being done on appeal that wouldn’t give me a fair shot at trying to save my life.

    Mr. Haynes several other lawyers in that county were aware of the secret affair also.

    Why didn’t you two either speak out against it?

    I even noticed that you were giving money to her campaign, I wished you would have conducted it in a fair way towards trying to save my life. The was a huge “ CONFLICT OF INTEREST ” why wouldn’t you speak out about it.

    I don’t think the statement Ms. Heitmiller was expressing when it came to this was a lie, she swore by it.

    And also the appeals lawyer whom investigated this claim found out that you, and others knew about this sexual relationship but wouldn’t do nothing about it, were you so affaird of the Judge?

    Please explain to me why you nor Mr. Parker would not ask her to recuse herself or the DA from this trial to give me a fair shot.

    I can also see now why the subpoenas were being sent to the Judges chambers and her going through them making it known that she was “ NOT ” going to to give me any kinda help, even shows why she wouldn’t let the jury hear the tapes on the man threatening to kill Mr. Williamson, removing the jury several times that afternoon to keep them from knowing that someone else had motive to kill these people.

    I am asking you sir to please explain this to me.

    Thank you for your time and hope to hear from you soon.

    MAY THE LORD BLESS YOU AND YOUR FAMILY.

    Respectfully,

    Charles D Hood # 000892
    3872 FM 350 SOUTH
    POLUNSKY UNIT
    LIVINGSTON, TEXAS.

    EXHIBIT S

  9. Anonymous says:

    In 2004 David Haynes was interviewed by the Dallas Paper ( reporter Jennifer Jennings ) He stated “ there was no romance.”

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